Green light given to world's most widely prescribed drug

If you’ve had doubts about those cholesterol-lowering statins you’ve been prescribed, wonder no more. A huge international study has given the green light to many of the world’s most prescribed and controversial drugs.

The review was led by Oxford University and concluded that the benefits of your cholesterol medication have been downplayed while the adverse side-effects have been overstated.

The analysis was published in The Lancet medical journal.

It says that opponents of statins had paid far too much attention the wrong sorts of studies. However, random trials and ‘gold standard’ medical investigations have been found to support the use of statins to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

The research has found that for every 10,000 patients taking a standard statin dose over a five-year period, 1,500 patients would avoid a major cardiovascular event. Further, those people were likely to have pre-existing vascular diseases.

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It also found that roughly 200 or fewer patients would experience side-effects.

Professor Rory Collins led the research and says, “Our review shows that the number of people who avoid heart attacks and strokes by taking statin therapy are very much larger than the numbers who have side-effects with it.”

In addition he says most of the side-effects can be reversed with “no residual effects” by stopping the statins.

You will be prescribed statins if you have, or are at risk of, cardiovascular disease. The most common types are Lipitor, Crestor, pravastatin, fluvastatin and simvastatin.

Dr Maureen Baker, who chairs the Royal College of GPS, says it is hoped this research “reassures patients that in the majority of cases statins are safe and effective drugs…”

You might recall that in 2013, the ABC ran a story on statins on its Catalyst program. At the time the Heart Foundation found that as a result of the program around 9 per cent of statin users had stopped taking their medication.

Do you take statins? Have you ever been concerned about the effectiveness or the side-effects of taking the drugs?