Headlines earlier this week suggested that if NICE (the health watchdog) 2014 guidelines on the prescription of statins were followed this would mean the overwhelming majority of men over 60 and women over 75 should be prescribed cholesterol lowering statin drugs. What many of the journalists failed or forgot mention was that the General Practitioners Committee and the Royal College of General Practitioners rejected this guidance in 2014 which would have meant that GPs were financially incentivised to prescribed statins to those as low risk of heart disease based upon poor evidence of benefit.
There were also alarm bells raised about the independence of the recommendations when it was exposed that several members of the NICE guideline panel had financial ties to drug companies that manufacture statins.
It’s instructive to note that many of the people in positions of influence who make up these guidelines actually don’t see patients and therefore lack insight into patients experiencing side effects from statins that interfere with the quality of life that affects up to 29%. These scientists gain more standing in their university departments by publishing drug company sponsored research for which their institutions often receive millions in research funding. In my view, this clearly introduces bias and they should not be involved in having the final say on what drugs should be offered to millions of people.
Here’s my interview on BBC Radio London explaining why in order to improve longevity and quality of life we must give complete information to patients and the public on the absolute true benefits and harms of taking a pill every day and help them make a decision based upon the individual patient’s values and preferences. The medical profession can also emphasise that simple lifestyle changes such as following the Pioppi Diet will have a rapid beneficial effect on health and quality of life and without side effects!