Drugs not health

A NICE little earner

statins poster
statins poster Your GP earns an average of £106,000 per annum. A single practice GP can earn an extra £126,000 making a potential total of £232,000 a year. In order to earn the extra £126,000 he needs to gain all 1050 points on the government's Quality and Outcomes Framework 'QOF' Over half of these points relate to clinical targets.One of the points is gained by prescribing statins for those at some risk of coronary heart disease. The patient is then on the drug for life, making this QOF point an easy one to maintain.There is little realistic possibility that a GP will be permitted to exercise his own independent clinical judgement and would be scared of legal action brought by a patient if NICE guidelines had not been followed.

At present NICE intends that millions are to to be screened and offered statins. Over the past 20 years statins have, no doubt, reduced the risk of heart problems in those with markedly raised chloresterol. This is demonstrated by the recently published West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study. However, the exponential rise in the number of statins prescribed is disturbing. People with an ever lower risk of heart attack and irrespective of their cholesterol levels are to be given statins and told that they have to take them for life.See 'talking statins'.statins
Extravagent claims of lives saved by the use of statins by the Heart Protection Study of 2002 at Oxford University and the fact that the 'gold standard' research relates to the Faringham Study in Massachchusetts USA. This started in 1948 and links high cholesterol with heart attacks amongst many other factors, in a population with a different diet and lifestyle, and has been widely criticised. Dr.James LeFanu (Sunday Times June 3rd 2007) has advised patients to take a statin holiday.He has received hundreds of letters from people who have taken his advice and have suddenly been relieved of debilitating side effects such as: muscle weakness, chronic tiredness, memory loss, thinning hair...

Doctors should not be paid by results when the results are assessed by government departments. Government departments have made the occasional mistake in recent times: Iraq, Home Improvement Packs, Pensions, Modern Medical Careers... and so it goes.