'Doctors who cast doubt on the effectiveness of statins are ‘needlessly’ risking lives, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock warns today.
In a passionate intervention, he has thrown his weight behind a Mail on Sunday campaign to fight ‘fake’ claims about proven medicines. Condemning those who peddle myths about the daily pills, Mr Hancock said: ‘Medical evidence shows that statins save lives.
‘Needlessly risking people’s health by spreading reckless and ignorant misinformation claiming otherwise is completely unjustified.’
About eight million Britons take statins, which can substantially reduce the risk of having a heart attack or stroke by lowering cholesterol – a fatty substance that contributes to the blocking of arteries – in the blood.
However, some medics dispute the benefits and a few wrongly assert they can cause serious and widespread damage to health. Inaccurate claims by ‘statin deniers’ include that high cholesterol is not linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. These rely on small, observational studies rather than ‘gold standard’ randomised controlled trials over many years that show statins do cut deaths from heart attacks and strokes.
The Health Secretary said: ‘These kind of pernicious lies have no place in our NHS and I welcome The Mail on Sunday’s work to shine a light on the scale of the problem. As part of our Long Term Plan for the NHS, we want to save thousands more lives from preventable conditions such as heart disease and strokes.
‘Medicines such as statins can and do play a huge role in keeping people at risk of cardiovascular disease healthy. I strongly urge anyone who is prescribed them to listen to the advice of their doctors and nurses.’
Doctors can prescribe statins if a patient is assessed as having a ten per cent chance or greater of having a cardiovascular ‘event’ over the next decade. However, a recent analysis by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine estimated that scare stories may have resulted in 200,000 patients who need the drug giving it up in a period of just six months.'
Read more: Statin deniers are putting patients' lives at risk, says Health Secretary Matt Hancock as he condemns doctors who cast doubt on their effectiveness
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