Medical experts furious that doctors will be paid to dole out 'risky' statins

Medical experts furious that doctors will be paid to dole out 'risky' statins

With the Express newsapers, we can always expect what they say one day to be reversed a few days later. Nonetheless, today's statin story is quite a strongly worded piece - and was on the front page.

Medical experts furious that doctors will be paid to dole out 'risky' statins

DOCTORS are set to get extra payments to hand out controversial statin drugs to patients who face a low risk of ever developing heart disease.

Published: 00:01, Sun, February 1, 2015

It could mean four in 10 adults, including most of those in late middle age, are put on regular doses in a move that “medicalises” healthy people, leaving them at risk of side-effects including diabetes and memory loss.

Medical experts are angry that doctors are being offered incentives to prescribe the drugs by a government watchdog, which they say is of “doubtful benefit and may cause harm”.

Guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says GPs should get financial incentives to prescribe statins to patients with high blood pressure even if they only have a low risk of developing heart disease over the next 10 years.

Yet many heart specialists say that for a large number of patients the benefits do not outweigh the risks, which include diabetes, cataracts, debilitating muscle pains, memory loss and fatigue.

They say doctors instead should be advising patients to follow a healthy diet and lifestyle to decrease the risk of heart attacks.

Klim McPherson, professor of public health at Oxford University, said: “This is shocking. Incentivising doctors to dish out drugs to patients who may not benefit and more importantly may suffer side effects is wrong and unethical.”

Professor McPherson, 73, who recently weaned himself off a two-year statin prescription after suffering debilitating muscle pains added: “This should be a matter of individual patient preference with patients fully aware of the risks.”

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31 Replies

  • I wish they'd stop paying doctors extra to give out 'special' drugs. They get paid enough as it is to do their job -it's not as though being a doctor was a commission only type job. If they weren't paid extra for certain jobs, we might be told the truth sometimes when we visit surgeries. Sorry for rant.

  • It seems to be 'profits' 'profits' and more profits. First the use of statins and then the follow up medical care needed for the side effects.

  • Shaws I think they treat us as test dummies. I've taken myself off statins and have no intention if going back on them

  • We seem to be used as guinea pigs, then when it all goes pear-shaped we have to deal with the consequences.

    I think you did the right thing. We used to be so trusting of doctors. What's happened?

  • This article makes it look like the drug companies are trying to make even more ridiculous profits with no concern for the risk to the health of the General Public. Surely they wouldn't stoop so low... ;)

    A friend's mum was recently put on statins after having her thyroxine dose halved and her cholesterol shooting up. Of course the doctor didn't see the connection. Apparently her debilitating fatigue is due to her lack of exercise (did I mention debilitating fatigue?) and her poor diet. I mean she must have a poor diet if she has high cholesterol, right? *sighs*.

    Thanks for sharing this :)

    Carolyn x

  • It's business - so, of course, they want to increase sales and profit.

  • Endos are going to be far too busy dealing with statin induced diabetes to up their thyroid game. :(

  • Thyroid problems - much too complicated for them!

  • My Mum and Mum in Law have now both taken themselves off statins, thankfully.

    Mum in Law started to have a foggy thoughts and not quite with it, but now has a clear mind once again. We thought she was starting to have Dementia, but not so.

    My Mother, a diabetic, ended up with complete Kidney failure and is now a dialysis patient, not sure if the statins contributed or not, but after reading up about statins and kidney problems we are left wondering if there was a connection.

  • My endo (who is quite nice) has tried to put me on statins for years because my cholestrol went up to 9 after not being given enough thyroxine. She was more interested in showing me why I needed statins than my thyroid situation!!!! she made a note on my file in large writing HAS REFUSED STATINS. She said it was not clear that being undermedicated had any effect on cholestrol levels. That's scary, if they don't know these things.

  • Well when I was totally hyper my cholesterol dropped to the lowest it's ever been 4. Something - I've just finished block and replace and am in remission and my cholesterol is back up to 7.1. ive made the connection but I sadly don't think my medics have.

    I was on statins for about a week five years ago. could hardly walk, awful muscle pains and I felt so depressed I just wanted to curl up in a ball and shut the world out needless to say I stopped taking them. Surprise, surprise I went back to being to being cheerful, energetic old me and haven't touched them since although I have been offered them but I certainly didn't feel in any way under pressure to take them.

  • What to believe?!

    At the time I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism (2008) I had no idea I had it or for how long, but probably a long time, maybe 10 years or so. At the same time my cholesterol levels were 7.1 (currently 4.5), though I have no idea what the levels of 'good' and 'bad' cholesterol were as I wasn't told. I also had no idea that there was a connection between an under-active thyroid and high levels of cholesterol (neither had my then GP, in fact he denied there was connection, tho later he admitted that I was correct, but only after showing him a peer-reviewed paper on the subject).

    I've always had a healthy diet but I smoked (no more) and drank, occasionally. Not over-weight (if anything under for my gender and height).

    I resisted taking statins until I had a heart attack in 2012 and even then I went onto the smallest dose (10mg) after taking a monstrous 80mg a day! I still would prefer not to take it.

    This is where it gets complicated.

    One of the many alleged symptoms of an under-active thyroid is an inability to concentrate. Ditto statins as well as memory loss! And to complicate matters even further, these can both be symptoms of depression!

    And this is the problem with treating the thyroid; it affects virtually every aspect of your body, from the brain to your temperature. It's a kind of 'gatekeeper' that regulates a whole host of bodily functions.

    So how do you tell what's causing what? Right now, I have a real problem concentrating (I'm a writer, so it's disastrous!!) and I've noticed that my memory is not what it used to be but this could be age (I'm 69) or, who knows?

    My current GP who is very sympathetic and very helpful admits to being clueless about the subject. I saw her today and repeated the same mantra to her, 'blood tests don't necessarily tell the whole story'. She has tried to get the complete range tested but so far without luck (I've tried to explain to her that the 'correct' levels of T4 in the blood don't necessarily mean it's getting to the thyroid). Do I have to spend a small fortune on a private test?

    What is it with the medical 'profession'? It acts like it's some kind of god!

  • How are your B12 levels ?

    ....and your VitD levels ?

    Homocysteine levels ? More of an indicator of overall circulatory health than cholesterol....

    Happy reading :-)

  • B12 and Vit D are fine (I can't find the test results right now) but I have no idea about the Homocysteine (sp?) levels, in fact I've never heard of it but I'll check.



  • Found this:

    "Homocysteine is a common amino acid (one of the building blocks that make up proteins) found in the blood and is acquired mostly from eating meat. High levels of homocysteine are related to the early development of heart and blood vessel disease. In fact, an elevated level is considered an independent risk factor for heart disease. High homocysteine is associated with low levels of vitamin B6, B12, and folate and renal disease. Research has shown, however, that reducing your homocysteine levels with vitamins does not reduce the risk of heart disease."

    I don't eat red meat and haven't for decades. We can chase all these things til the cows come home and be none the wiser for it.

  • Hope you will find the time to read the essays in the last link I posted - about Dr Kendrick. He wrote the Cholesterol Con and his most recent book - Doctoring Data - is an excellent read.

    When Dr K qualified 7.5 was considered the level for cholesterol to be a problem - this has been lowered until they are now talking about all people over 4 should be on Statins - as Kendrick said - everyone will be in need of Statin....absolutely ridiculous and earning BILLIONS more for Big Pharma....

    He also talks of other research done over a period of time - deaths in hospital were people who had LOW levels of cholesterol.

  • Your doctor should prescribe co-q10 with the statins.

    You should consider mega doses of Vit C (not calcium ascorbate) and lysine and perhaps proline too. You should be taking Vit B's, niacin...

    You should research preventing/reversing plaque. Start with...


    If your medics argue that Dr Pauling was an idiot, ask them how many Nobel prizes and PhD's they've managed to accumulate? Pauling had more than they could even imagine.

  • PS: I just came across a piece on statins and increased risk of cataracts (I have it in one eye, developed since being on Atorvastatin).

    "For reasons that remain somewhat mysterious, drug companies have been able to downplay the risk of cataracts associated with statins for 25 years. Very few physicians ever mention this as a complication of statin therapy. We suspect that if you asked most cardiologists, internists or family practice physicians about this side effect you would get a deer-in-the-headlights stare or a shrug.

    The cataract connection began to get traction when a large British study (BMJ, May 20, 2010) involving over 2 million patients detected a signal. The authors reported that “Each statin was associated with an increased risk of cataract in both men and women… After stopping treatment the risk of cataract returned to normal within a year in men and women.”

    I get the feeling I'm being f***ed over!

  • More than 25 years.

    This is linked from the oldest entry in PubMed if I search for "statin cataract" - at 28 years ago:

    ARTICLE | March 27, 1987

    Inhibitors of Cholesterol Synthesis and Cataracts

    Richard J. Cenedella, PhD

    JAMA. 1987;257(12):1602. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390120064020.




    To the Editor.— The results presented in the article entitled "Therapeutic Response to Lovastatin (Mevinolin) in Nonfamilial Hypercholoesterolemia"1 clearly indicate that lovastatin (a potent inhibitor of the rate-limiting step in cholesterol biosynthesis) could be a useful agent for the management of an elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level. The purpose of this letter is to caution against the possible complication of cataract development that might result from long-term use of this agent. Although the authors reported no apparent increases in lens opacities in adult subjects treated for 18 weeks with lovastatin, they should be aware that serious consequences could result from long-term inhibition of cholesterol synthesis by the ocular lens, especially in children and young adults.The avascular lens grows throughout life by laying down layer upon layer of permanently retained fiber cells that are enclosed by an extremely cholesterol-rich plasma membrane. The human lens increases in size with each...

    Sorry. That's all folks! Unless you pay.


  • Luckily it is one thing I have not been offered at the surgery. I will avoid them like the plague. Thanks for posting Helvella interesting reading I'd not give that rag houseroom so would have missed it ?

  • House room? I wouldn't even give it bin room. :-) :-) :-)

  • I don't understand 'will' be paid? They are already paid to prescribe anti-depressants and statins!

  • This is madness and will put more people at risk of being wrongly medicated. For instance I put 2 stone on due to my underactive thyroid 2 years ago and my cholestral was high at that particular time I also requested another cholestral test as I was a bit worried, but my very sensible GP refused to check my cholestral again until I had settled down on Levo meds, as my cholestral levels would be likely to drop down which they did. Not all doctors are as sensible as my GP.

    A friend of mine seems to have contracted heart problems and lost loads of weight since she was put on Statins, could be just concidence but its a bit worrying.

    Years ago they used to offer HRT to a large majority of menopausal women, but all went quiet when some of these women started to get breast lumps, not all cancerous but who wants the additional stress and worry. NOT ME! HRT should have only have been handed out for very severe menopausal cases, but it became more of a fashion than a necessity.

  • Thanks for posting this. Like many others on here I'm reading Dr Kendrick's new book and he raises the point that do doctors actually know anything about the meds they prescribe? Makes you think eh!

    Of course it may well be that the reason so many GPs are leaving the profession is due to Big Pharma and the way that drugs are being pushed onto patients by these NICE directives. Of course the younger GPs just don't question anything. Seems to me that NICE have lost their way and are not adhering to their remit.

    It's worrying, it really is and I find myself almost preaching to family and friends not to trust the NHS with their health.

  • ...and some of those NICE people are linked to Drug companies :-)

  • Indeed they are Marz.

  • I have been told a blood test has shown high cholesterol. I see a GP in the morning and I know he will try pushing statins on me. I will be firmly saying no. I eat a healthy diet and what is harmful is all these drugs they keep putting me on. I am well aware that statins are harmful and are not needed in healthy people. Even doctors avoid taking them. Again due to being paid extra they are giving them to people just because they are over 40, not for real health reasons. I was once on Simvastin which caused a change in my liver. Luckily I had the sense to stop them and my liver went back to normal. Shame doctors don't put as much energy into treating people's actual illnesses.

  • They make a bigger, better salary by keeping people sick or by making people sick.

  • Please ask your GP for a research paper that you can refer to that says Statins benefit women. There is I believe research that says it does NOT benefit women :-) Will try and find it....

  • Giving patients statins ‘buys them just fourteen days of life’

    Dr K chipping at it for years, now there's a review? (can't find link at mo sorry)

    ‘We know that adverse event reporting is very, very low. Impotence, cognitive deficits, anger and irritation are all statin side effects that go unnoticed,’ Dr Kendrick said...

    and THAT's also why I'm dreading work tomorrow - the anger.... just trying to avoid stress...sigh...

    Rory Collins?

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