Monday, July 21, 2008

EUROPEAN DOCTORS TO INCLUDE WARNINGS WITH STATINS; STUDIES KEPT SECRET

DAILY EXPRESS, UK - Alarming new health warnings are to be issued over cholesterol-lowering wonder drugs taken daily by more than four million patients.

In some cases, users of statins have suffered a rare form of lung disease. More commonly, patients prescribed statins have suffered depression, sleep disturbance, memory loss and sexual problems.

An investigation by the Daily Express has found that one in 20 patients who complained that statins gave them side-effects highlighted those four conditions. . .

A safety review by the European medicines watchdog has concluded there is enough evidence to alert both doctors and patients. From the autumn, drug firms will have to add the warnings to information sent to doctors as well as leaflets included in the box of pills. . .

New data on these side-effects collected by drugs firms was recently handed to a European working party and has resulted in the demand for patients to be informed. The European Medicines Agency and the UK's Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority have now contacted drugs firms telling them of the change.

However, an attempt by the Daily Express to access the studies seen by the European regulators has been refused on the grounds that it is commercially sensitive to the drug firms.

This secrecy means GPs will be left without vital information on whether one brand of statin causes fewer side-effects than another.

Until now, only a few brands of statin warned patients that they might cause problems. But some drugs firms do not even reveal these warnings to GPs.

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