Intended for healthcare professionals


Statin prescriptions in UK now total a million each week

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 14 July 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d4350
  1. Daniel Trusler
  1. 1BMJ

New figures from the British Heart Foundation this week showed annual statin prescriptions in England soared from 295 000 to 52 million between 1981 and 2008. Around seven million people in the UK are now taking prescribed statins, and more are buying low dose statins over the counter.

The foundation revealed that one in five prescriptions for patients with heart and circulatory diseases were statins, and that they were second only to anti-hypertensive drugs in the number of prescriptions.

Statins have been hailed as a success, with Colin Baigent, of the Clinical Trial Service Unit at Oxford University, last year describing statins as one of the “great success stories of the last decade or two,” having “prevented many thousands of deaths.”

Michael Knapton, associate medical director of the British Heart Foundation, which has championed statins, told the BMJ that he was “happy to support natural options” for patients, such as dietary changes, but insisted that the benefits of statins vastly outweighed their potential side effects.

Dr Knapton confirmed that about one in three people aged over 45 are on statins. He warned that the use of statins in low risk patients was “potentially hugely expensive to the NHS.” The current level of statin prescribing costs the NHS more than £800m ($1.3bn; €900m) a year in England.


Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d4350


View Abstract