Last week’s BMJ, the May 12 edition, carried a debate about whether women should be offered statin drugs to prevent cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Scott Grundy of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School supports the idea. He lists the fact that he has been a consultant to the following companies that market statins: Merck, Pfizer, Bristol Myers Squibb, and Astra Zeneca.
Malcolm Kendrick of the UK hates the idea. He writes:
"To date, none of the large trials of secondary prevention with statins has shown a reduction in overall mortality in women.Perhaps more critically, the primary prevention trials have shown neither an overall mortality benefit, nor even a reduction in cardiovascular end points in women. This raises the important question whether women should be prescribed statins at all.
I believe that the answer is clearly no. Not only do statins fail to provide any overall health benefit in women, they represent a massive financial drain on health services. This money could be diverted to treatments of proved value.
In addition to the lack of benefit and expense, statins carry a substantial burden of side effects. Lifetime drug treatment can also create other problems. Firstly, women may falsely believe that they are being protected and may therefore be less likely to make beneficial lifestyle changes. Secondly, mass medicalisation is a dangerous road with many psychological and societal consequences."
Good debate, with some passionate responses from readers available online.