Prescribing statins more widely ‘could avert tragedy’, new medical guidelines suggest

A total of 17 million people could be offered statins on the NHS

Four-and-a-half million more adults should be offered statins to avert “a tragedy waiting to happen” by reducing the number of people suffering heart attacks and strokes, according to new medical guidelines.

Rejecting claims that offering cholesterol-reducing drugs to currently healthy people risked an overmedicalisation of society, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice) said the move was necessary to save thousands of lives a year.

A total of 17 million people could be offered statins on the NHS, after experts said people with a 10 per cent risk of developing cardiovascular disease within 10 years should receive the drugs, lowering the threshold from 20 per cent.

A previous draft of the guidance, issued earlier this year, had been heavily criticised for recommending statins be given to patients bearing such a low risk – with leading doctors, including the president of the Royal College of Physicians, arguing that it would be unnecessary and expensive.

Currently 12.5 million people are eligible for the drugs, and prescribing statins to an extra 4.5 million people would mean an additional cost of £52m a year to the NHS.

But the Nice guidance panel said yesterday its decision was based on the “biggest ever clinical trial” – saying it could potentially save as many as 50,000 lives a year.

However, they concede that because the uptake of statins is normally around 60 per cent, a figure of 4,000 lives saved and 22,000 stokes and heart attacks prevented over three years is more realistic.

Statins are already the most prescribed drugs on the NHS, but cardiovascular diseases remains the cause of one in three of all deaths in the UK.

Some doctors have claimed that evidence for the new guidelines is based almost entirely on studies funded by the pharmaceutical industry. The controversy was exacerbated by an article in the British Medical Journal saying 20 per cent of the patients using statins suffered side effects, including fatigue, psychiatric symptoms, erectile dysfunction and an increased risk of developing diabetes – but that report was later withdrawn.

Professor Mark Baker, director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at Nice, said the claims were “ludicrous”.

“Nobody gets onto our guideline groups if they have any significant vested interest, especially a financial interest,” he said. “Statins are safe and effective and it is a good deal for more people to have access to them under the NHS. ”

Responding to attacks on the “integrity” of his panel, Professor Baker said there is a “risk noise distorts the message, to the point where people whose lives are going to be saved by statins come off them”. He added: “From a public health point of view it is a tragedy waiting to happen.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
education
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London