Conflicts of interests swirling round statins

Another five or six million people will be  offered a prescription for statins after NICE confirmed its decision last week to halve the risk of heart disease that makes you eligible for these cholesterol lowering drugs.

This is a bad decision if you think that the only consideration was the welfare of patients. If you suspect that the interests of the pharmaceutical companies played a key part, then you are probably not surprised. The latest post on HealthInsightUK.org contains new details of this conflict of interests at work

There was no shortage of opposition from well-informed medical professionals. But in announcing the news Professor Mark Baker, Director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE made no mention of the serious doubts about the reliability of the evidence supporting this move.

The critique came not from some left field malcontents but was set out in a public letter by such senior medical figures as the President of the Royal College of Physicians, a Past Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners and a professor of Emergency medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine New York.

It was also opposed by 57% of GPs, the  medical footsoldiers  who are going to have to implement this policy and who also made it clear that the majority wouldn’t apply it to themselves or their families.

Blithely ignoring all this backstage chatter Professor Baker trotted out the familiar phrases …’The weight of evidence clearly shows statins are safe and clinically and cost effective”…”The effectiveness of these medicines is now well proven…..”…patient choice should be guided by should be guided by “information on the trade-off between benefits and risks.”

Any of those skeptical senior medical figures or the disgruntled GPs could tell you what was so wrong with each of those claims. For more plenty of specifics look at recent statin posts HealthInsightUK.org.

The new post for the first time pulls back the curtain of commercial secrecy to reveal a glimpse of the vested interests swirling around the researching, analysing and evaluating statins and by implication many other drugs. Read it here.

 

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