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PCTs to pick up statins costs

NICE has set out the dramatic extent of medicalisation under its new appraisal on statins ­ and the costs to cash-strapped PCTs.

Three-quarters of men aged 64 to 75 and two-fifths of those aged 55 to 64 will be eligible for statins under the appraisal, which recommends them for everyone from 20 per cent 10-year risk of CVD. NICE estimates annual NHS costs of £78 million ­ assuming just 50 per cent uptake.

But the Department of Health told Pulse PCTs would get no financial help implementing the guidance, which has to be funded by May. It insisted reduced statin costs made the appraisal 'affordable under the current settlement'.

Dr Mike Dixon, chair of the NHS Alliance and a GP in Cullompton, Devon, said PCTs would have 'difficulty' finding the money. 'The best case scenario is it's going to cost almost £300,000 per PCT, which is pretty significant.'

Dr James Gillgrass, joint chief executive of Surrey and Sussex LMCs, said: 'It will be another blow to hopes of breaking even or financial recovery.'

And he warned NICE might have underestimated costs as it assumed 100 per cent use of simvastatin: 'I don't think we can assume that. We regularly see patients attribute their symptoms to the statin and when they change to another their symptoms go away.'

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