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BHF: ‘Disappointing’ headlines put patients off statins


C+D spoke to Professor Nilesh Samani to clarify the confusion about statin use

In this C+D clinical podcast you will learn:

  • What statins are and how they work
  • The likelihood of side effects occuring
  • Why statins makes the headlines – for all the wrong reasons
  • What advice pharmacists should give patients concerned about their statin medication.

Newspaper headlines about statins use – contesting their benefits and describing side effects which “rarely” occur – must not deter patients, the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) medical director has warned.

“It is always right to question drug use, especially commonly used drugs like statins, but we also would not want the wrong people to stop taking them,” Professor Nilesh Samani told C+D in an exclusive podcast interview last week.

An article published in the BMJ in June suggested that “intense” media coverage of the side effects of statins in 2013-14 led to an increase in the number of patients stripping their treatment.

Much of the “disappointing” press coverage around statins – which are primarily used to lower the level of cholesterol in the blood – has been based on “observational evidence”, describing side effects such as muscle ache, headaches and diarrhoea, Professor Samani said.

However, the “strongest evidence” available on the benefits of statins for patients who have had a heart attack or have heart disease, is collected from “randomised clinical trials” he said.

This “powerful” data shows that there “isn’t a high prevalence of side effects with statins”, he stressed.

“There is no question that statins are part of the armoury that we have to fight against heart disease,” Professor Samani added.

The British Heart Foundation has a range of resources for both healthcare professionals and the public.

Have your patients raised concerns about statin use?

Sharon Stone, Communications

Oh come on C and D , why are you playing professor Samani's tune in order to get pharmacists to convince patients to keep taking statins . Everyone knows there are problems with statins . 

Jupo Patel, Production & Technical

This is too important to talk about patient safety. Billions of pounds are involved.

Jupo Patel, Production & Technical

Many are waking up to the scandalous dealings of Big Pharma who have many governments in their pockets. Money is their God and patients are merely collateral damage. Big Pharma need you to be sick to make their billions and if you're not sick you must believe you are. Healthy living I presume doesn't really help Pharma or community pharmacists get rich. And let us not start on the hocus pocus known as homeopathy. If it wasn't for the fact it is popular in the West it would be known as black magic or witchcraft.

Sarah Smythe, Information Technology

That would be self evident in the fact that the MUR scandal continues to roll on unabated

Jupo Patel, Production & Technical

Yes, I did read about this in the guardian some months ago. From your comment I presume contractors and Boots were not reprimanded or even investigated after the reports. The irony is the mad rush for money may well  signal the final death knell for community pharmacy. 

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

The GPhC is not motivated to investigate any big companies ... just follow the money! A handful of superintendents of just a few multiples hold the purse-strings to the GPhC - do you really think they will investigate Boots and risk losing all these annual retention fees. In fact, the opposite is true ... ask whether the GPhC held any meetings with the big superintendents to "consult" as to how they wish pharmacists should be regulated? Whether they still have these meetings regularly and whether are they conducted under Chatham House rules?

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

This is another book, by another doctor, The Statin Damage Crisis, interesting it was published in 2014, and in 2016 there are still those who think statins are safe:-

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, I believe he is one of those whose research in the 1990's heralded the initial widespread use of statins ... so about this article, he would be conflicted had he said otherwise. Does anyone know if any of Sir Nilesh's research have been used by pharmaceutical companies in their licensing submissions?

John Dow, Advertising

​there is probably a link somewhere.

Liz Jones,

My friends stopped taking them because of side effects. There was a "high prevalence" with them . 

Alan WHITEMANN, Communications

Strange one this, many other professional sources contradict his opinion.  Many patients taking statins state that they do indeed get side effects ,which are most unpleasant, which is also contrary to his statement. Do we believe this medical expert or the others.????

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Sarah Smythe, Information Technology

Good link, I think alot of people are coming to believe not just take the word of one person but delve deeper.

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