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GPs hailed for resisting over-prescription of statins



A leading US academic has praised UK GPs for their ‘widespread resistance’ to the over-prescribing of statins.

In a column in the Pharmaceutical Journal, Dr John Abramson – a Harvard University healthcare policy lecturer –  said GPs should be congratulated for not routinely adopting NICE guidance from last year that lowered the threshold of cardiovascular disease risk for statin therapy from a 20% to a 10% ten-year risk.

He referred to Pulse research published last October showing that two-thirds of GPs were disregarding NICE’s advice to offer statins to more patients.

Dr Abramson, a former family physician, has been in a long-running dispute with some UK academics.

In 2013, he and colleagues re-evaluated a 2012 meta-analysis by the Cholesterol Treatment Trialists’ (CTT) Collaboration and concluded that taking statins brought no significant reduction in mortality for people with a 10% five-year cardiovascular disease risk.

Dr Abramson published the findings in the British Medical Journal in October 2013, but they were disputed by Sir Rory Collins, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Oxford, where the CTT is based.

Professor Collins requested that the BMJ retract Dr Abramson’s analysis, but the journal ruled against this.

In his column in the Pharmaceutical Journal, Dr Abramson said: ‘British GPs are to be congratulated for their widespread resistance to unquestioned adoption of the new NICE guideline. Although the situation with statins seems singularly chaotic, the bad news is that it is not at all unique.

‘It is just the example du jour of the extent to which the primary function of medical information has become tipped toward serving commercial rather than public interest.