Paying for statins BMJ Volume 328, pp 400-2
GPs should be able to offer private prescriptions for cholesterol lowering drugs (statins) to patients below 3% risk of heart disease, argue researchers in this week's BMJ.
Statins can help prevent coronary heart disease in people whose annual risk is 0.6% or more. Yet this would lead to treatment of over 40% of the British adult population, and would be unaffordable under the NHS.
Current medical practice therefore recommends treatment only for those with a risk of over 3% a year, but this denies effective treatment to 32% of the adult population.
However, if patients who are currently ineligible for statins were told that they could benefit from these drugs, some might be willing to pay for a private prescription, suggest GP, Nick Raithatha and health economist, Richard Smith.
They predict that the cost of private treatment with monitoring by an NHS practice nurse would eventually be £93.66 a year. This is far less than average household expenditure on, for example, alcohol (£320), clothes (£380) and motoring (£920), and may therefore be quite affordable to people on average earnings.
Although private prescriptions would increase inequality in access to health care, this is a form of inequality whereby all members of society gain and is therefore both economically and ethically jusifiable, they conclude.
Source: Eurekalert & othersLast reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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