Experts cast doubt on statins – you read it first in Spectator Health

Diabetes

11th June 2014

Statins are in the news – again. A few weeks ago, reports appeared across the media suggesting that statins truly were the wonder-drug of our time – and that the alleged adverse side-effects associated with their consumption had been greatly exaggerated. This backed up the latest research from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which proposed that statin prescriptions be extended to around five million more Britons.

Against this tide of pro-statin coverage, the first issue of Spectator Health came out, and on the cover we put Dr James Le Fanu’s sceptical take on the marvels of statin use. He pointed to concerns over the role that the pharmaceutical industry plays in statin trials and suggested we may not be seeing an entirely true picture of how the drug works.

‘The promotion of ‘statins all round’ — given these modest benefits — could really be justified only if indeed they have “virtually no side effects,”‘ wrote James. ‘This is hotly disputed. Statins were in the press earlier this month after the British Medical Journal accepted that it had published flawed research last autumn over-estimating the side effects of statins. The research had claimed that 18 to 20 per cent of patients suffered debilitating side effects, and this statistic has now been withdrawn by the authors. But while their figure may have been an over-estimate, that doesn’t necessarily mean statins have no side effects.’

‘Indeed, this would be most unlikely — not least, as Professor Abramson observes, because it appears that some clinical trials may have excluded patients unable to tolerate the drugs. It is certainly contradicted by independent surveys of those taking statins that suggest the prevalence of muscular aches and pains to be 100 times greater than reported in trials, along with numerous other problems of fatigue, depression, poor memory and concentration, sleep disturbances and reduced libido.’

Following James’s stand, a group of leading doctors and academics has today published a letter to NICE and ministers urging them to reconsider the rush towards statins for nearly everyone aged 40 plus. The experts said that clinical trails ‘grossly underestimate adverse effects’ and that ‘the benefits in a low-risk population do not justify putting approximately five million more people on drugs that will then have to be taken lifelong.’

You could have read the same thing if you had picked up Spectator Health two weeks ago.


  • Holly

    ‘Statins are in the news again’…So are the unemployment figures.

    • telemachus

      Yes
      And the headline is that in the reported period (February to April) 72.9% of people aged 16 to 64 were in work
      They try to say that this is impressive
      But it in fact is significantly less than when Labour was in power

      • HookesLaw

        When labour was in power they shrunk the economy by 7.2%, the biggest recession in the developed world. Finance had bloated to 10% of the economy under labour. Brown wiped that out and its now more like a trend 5 %.

        Unemployment fell from 7.2% to 6.6%
        Numbers out of work fell by 161,000
        Numbers in work rose by 345,000

        Inflation is 1.8%

        Swallow that.

        • Holly

          Plus, not all public sector workers are Labour voters.

          Labour were disastrous in power, and in opposition believe by telling the 25 million working in the private, wealth creating sector, that they are going to buy back the railways, the post office, scrap welfare cuts, freeze energy, fix rents, grab private land to build on, and unpick the reforms in the public sector and that will get them to vote for Labour.
          You can just imagine the drop in employment, investment, new start-ups etc in the private sector within Labour’s first few years.
          Labour are, in a nutshell….unfit.

      • Rhoda Klapp8

        Isn’t 73.1 the highest it has ever been, in a time when far fewer people were in higher ed?

        • telemachus

          And 72.9 is significantly less

          • Rhoda Klapp8

            Idiot

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    I read it years ago, as I recall in the DT under the Dalrymple byline. It isn’t a secret among the statin-taking cohort, of whom I am not one.

  • HookesLaw

    The issue of side effects for any drug are no doubt real. But set against that, do statins stop you dropping dead? I would have thought this was important.

    • FrankS2

      Indeed, Springy, where are the figures for people who haven’t died while taking statins?

    • Rhoda Klapp8

      Googled it:

      In Summary, for those who took the statin for 5 years:

      Benefits in Percentage

      98% saw no benefit
      0% were helped by being saved from death
      1.6% were helped by preventing a heart attack
      0.4% were helped by preventing a stroke

      Harms in Percentage

      2% were harmed by developing diabetes**
      10% were harmed by muscle damage

      • Rhoda Klapp8

        Which I don’t regard as impressive enough to justify giving to low-risk patients (who would not otherwise be patients at all)

    • Chris Morriss

      ‘Fraid they don’t. An (in)famous article in the BMJ late last year argued that eating one apple a day was actually more effective.

  • http://my.telegraph.co.uk/members/jp99 jp99

    First heard it here? Rubbish. The dangers of statins are real and have been known about for years.

  • Conway

    One of my English friends has been complaining of feeling confused and depressed since he’s started taking statins and one of my French friends completely lost his libido (needless to say he stopped taking them instanter)! Statins are not side effect free.

  • davidhill

    Over the past 10 years I have become conscious of the fact that government is the puppet and the giant pharmaceutical companies are the puppet master. In this respect the vast power and influence of drug companies has infiltrated both the Department of Health and also the Home Office, as these two government departments have not only introduced ever more drugs (many dubious curative treatments) and blocked the introduction of life saving drugs because apparently they would hit the bottom-line of the global pharmaceutical giants and where the whole industry turns over annually around US$1.5 trillion and growing constantly.

    Therefore the question that has to be asked is, are our government departments now so infiltrated with industry lobbyists and policy makers that they are now an arm of big business and not the government whose primary task should be looking after the interests of the British people? For the new bout of introducing further significant drugs such as universal statins to healthy people, clearly has the signs aroma of corruption and big business influence orchestrating the government (both Labour and Tory governments when in-depth historical analysis is undertaken) behind closed doors.

    What ‘Successive’ Governments and Whitehall have covered-up and ‘Not’ told the British People about Hard Drug Addiction Treatments that simply will never work – http://worldinnovationfoundation.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/what-successive-governments-and.html

    Global Pharmaceutical Giants have made Criminal Activity and the Fines a part of their Drug Costs – http://worldinnovationfoundation.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/global-pharmaceutical-giants-have-made.html

    Democracy died a death when ‘Partyocracy’ and ‘Corporatocracy’ Corrupted the System and became the New way to Control People and run a Nation – http://worldinnovationfoundation.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/democracy-died-death-when-partyocracy.html

  • http://english-pensioner.blogspot.co.uk/ english_pensioner

    Statistics have to be used with great care
    The report suggesting that “18 to 20 per cent of patients suffered debilitating side effects” has been withdrawn.
    My wife takes statins, but the first three provided by the GP all produced side effects. The fourth which she is now taking seems OK so far.
    So is she one of the 18-20% as she certainly suffered serious side effects, or does she count in 80+% who have no problems?

  • mandelson

    Stain pump and dump articles keep appearing in the MSM. It is always interesting to see what the real people write in blog posts which I would say are over 90% negative about statins – and that is from people who are supposedly at high risk, including me. Properly research the subject then decide, your GP is no wiser than you are on this. My conclusion – avoid like the plague.

  • Leelywhite

    At least a dozen blockbuster drugs have been quietly withdrawn from the market in the last few years, after having been launched with much hype and expense. One of them was Baycol, supposedly the last word in statins. These drugs routinely produce abnormal liver function tests (ask your GP to send you for a blood test).
    The biggest danger is rhabdomyolysis which starts with muscle pains and leads to renal failure.
    Exercise, eat properly and don’t smoke. Much healthier.

  • Leelywhite

    At least a dozen blockbuster drugs have been quietly withdrawn from the market in the last few years, after having been launched with much hype and expense. One of them was Baycol, supposedly the last word in statins. These drugs routinely produce abnormal liver function tests (ask your GP to send you for a blood test).
    The biggest danger is rhabdomyolysis which starts with muscle pains and leads to renal failure.
    Exercise, eat properly and don’t smoke. Much healthier.