British agency, doctors spar over aggressive statin guidance
- Britain's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recently released draft guidance that many perceive as aggressively promoting statins.
- A group of high-profile physicians, including Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians, have written NICE expressing concern about the safety and integrity of the recommendations.
- NICE responded that the goal is to prevent CVD-induced coronary heart disease by treating at-risk people early---especially since CVD-related diseases kill one in three people.
The NICE draft guidance on statins recommends that anyone with a 10% or greater risk of developing CVD in the next 10 years should be eligible for statins. Thompson and eight other physicians responded angrily, suggesting that the recommendations are skewed in favor of pharmaceutical industry biases. "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," the physicians wrote in a letter to NICE and British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Their negative response went beyond NICE’s statin guidance, and included commentary saying the industry downplays adverse events and disregards conflicts of interest.
NICE maintains that the draft guidance has not been finalized and that because the price of statins has decreased, they represent a cost-effective way to decrease the risk of serious CVD events. The agency also responded that it relies on an evidence-based approach when making decisions.