The computer says “take statins”!

The shock story of last week broke on 11th May (2016). The UK GP magazine, Pulse, reported that The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) had contacted GPs to tell them that there had been a “bug” in the heart risk calculator software since 2009. Risks had been “miscalculated” and hundreds of thousands of patients may have been put on statins unnecessarily and others may not have been prescribed statins when eligible for them (lucky them!) Dr Grant Ingrams, deputy chairman of the IT subcommittee of the General Practitioners Committee (GPC), told Pulse magazine it would be “loads of work” to sort out. How wonderfully scientific! The computer error affects everyone who has had a “QRISK” assessment. This is the calculator that was invented in 2007 and implemented shortly afterwards. As early as 2008 there were cautions that QRISK would substantially increase the number of statin prescriptions. Indeed it did. An additional 3.3 million people became ‘eligible’ for statins and the number of prescriptions for these disabling drugs increased by 29% between 2007 and 2011. This newsletter explores a number of jigsaw pieces - QRISK, statins, conflicts of interest, NICE and what does matter when it comes to heart disease...

 

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