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Generic drugs drive undermines NICE cholesterol targets

4 June 2008

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Tough cholesterol targets will be impossible to hit unless GPs ignore a new benchmark demanding 77% of drugs used to treat it are generic, a new analysis concludes.

The research suggests the new National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) targets for secondary prevention will only be feasible if high-dose or high-potency statins are given to a substantial proportion of patients.

Chasing the targets risks breaking budgets for drugs and raising the number of patients who suffer statin-induced side-effects, the University of Hertfordshire researchers concluded.

They observed 5,800 patients at one general practice and found that while 70.3% of them were hitting NHS cholesterol targets, fewer than a third were reaching the new NICE targets, which match those set by the Joint British Societies.

The low rate of target achievement occurred even though 36% of patients were on lipid-lowering drugs other than simvastatin, the researchers told a British Cardiovascular Society meeting.

Professor Mike Kirby said PCTs should understand the short-term costs of intensive statin treatment would be outweighed by long-term gains.

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