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Statin drugs

New Push for Statin Drugs in UK as GPs are Asked to Dole Out Drugs for Millions More

Friday, September 05, 2008 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: statin drugs, health news, Natural News


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(NaturalNews) The British government is urging doctors to increase the prescription of cholesterol-lowing statin drugs by an estimated 1.5 million, in a new initiative billed as a way to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes among high-risk patients.

Several months ago, the government encouraged that all people between the ages of 40 and 74 be screened for cardiovascular disease. Following up on that recommendation, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has urged that all those identified as "high risk" be prescribed statins, whether they have high cholesterol or not.

This "high risk" population would not be identified by physical tests, but by a computer program that would calculate risk factors such as age, ethnicity, sex, blood pressure, cholesterol levels and smoking habits. Those identified as high risk by their doctors would be invited in for a personalized medical screening. They would be offered advice on how to live a healthier lifestyle, and a prescription for simvastatin.

Simvastatin is the generic form of the brand-name drug Zocor.

NICE estimates that 1.5 million more people would receive statins due to this program, leading to 15,000 fewer heart attacks and strokes each year. A total of four million people are already taking the drugs in England and Wales alone.

The screenings are projected to cost the government 28 million ($55 million) in the first year, while prescriptions would run an estimated 35 million ($69 million) per year.

But the British Heart Foundation has warned that dosing large numbers of people with drugs will not necessarily provide the best care for each individual. The foundation's medical director, Pete Weissberg, criticized NICE for advising drugs in the absence of continued health monitoring to make sure that they respond well to the treatment.

"This 'fire and forget' approach is likely to result in many patients being inadequately treated," he said.

Sources for this story include: news.bbc.co.uk.

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