Statins: at what age?

1st August 2017 would have been a confusing day for anyone reading all the UK papers. The Telegraph front page said “Statins ‘needlessly doled out to millions’”.

The article reported that the British Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) had warned that statins are being needlessly prescribed to millions of people simply because of their age. The RCGP called for an end to the “blanket” prescription of statins for older people, many of whom are at a low risk of heart disease.

The Times front page announced “Give statins to almost all men over 60, GPs are told”. This was picked up by many other UK national newspapers. The Independent headline was “Statins: Almost every older person should be given potentially life-saving drugs, study finds”.

The “give everyone statins” story came from a publication in the British Journal of General Practice by Peter Ueda (Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, US), Thomas Wai-Chun Lung (George Institute for Global Health, University of New South Wales, Australia), Philip Clarke (School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Australia) and Goodarz Danaei (Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, US). That’s two researchers from America and two from Australia telling UK doctors to give statins to millions of Brits. “Mind your own business” springs to mind! (Technically the article was about England, but NICE has pan-UK agreements and the devolved health departments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all too often follow England).

This is the article. “Pulse” – the leading publication for GPs in the UK – reported the article as “Almost 12m more people should be on statins under current NICE guidelines“.


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