OTC statins criticised by the Lancet UK
24 May 2004
Source: Medical News Today
The UK government is 'privatising the prevention of heart disease' by allowing over-the-counter sales of statins, a leading medical journal has claimed.
The Lancet said in an editorial there was insufficient clinical data to justify self-medication with the drugs, which are widely used to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Last week's move makes Britain the first country in the world to allow over-the-counter sales of so-called statin drugs.
Merck & Co Inc's Zocor, or simvastatin, will be the first statin to go over-the-counter this summer.
It will be sold in a low dose of 10 milligrams and cost between 10 and 15 pounds per 28-day pack.
'In the absence of evidence of the overall mortality benefits of OTC simvastatin, it is difficult to avoid concluding that the motive behind the Government's decision is saving money. Statins are currently prescribed to about 1·8 million people in the UK, costing the NHS £700 million a year. With the NHS bill for statins predicted to be more than £2 billion a year by 2010, transferring costs to patients might seem timely. But privatising the prevention of heart disease will increase inequalities, with many unable to afford the likely £10-15 per month longterm,' says the editorial.