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Statins switch to OTC could spell trouble for GPs

So now we have it. The Government's response to a spiralling drugs bill is to move medicines off the prescription pad and into the chemist's shop. In theory, the prospect of statins being available over the counter within six months has its attractions. They are relatively safe, there is evidence they benefit almost anyone who takes them and, according to heart tsar Dr Roger Boyle, GPs could be issuing 66 million prescriptions for them a year by 2010.

But the reality of such a groundbreaking step may not be so pleasant. Safety is a concern and most GPs would check liver function as a minimum. Other questions also emerge. Will manufacturers advertise once unshackled from POM restrictions? Could that rebound on GPs when patients decide they don't want to cough up £18 every month for their supply?

Far from easing workload, the switch could be storing up a whole load of trouble for GPs.

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