Prof Sultan also highlighted studies showing a link with statins and increased risk of side effects including diabetes, cataracts, renal failure, liver failure, impotence, breast cancer, nerve damage, depression and muscle pains. He said: “People are taking this drug to prevent a problem and creating a disaster.”
Prof Sultan called on drug regulators to “rewrite” guidelines on the heart drugs prescribed to up to 12 million patients in the UK, or around one-in-four adults. He reignited the debate surrounding the drugs, the most widely prescribed treatment in the UK. The Queen’s former doctor of 21 years Sir Richard Thompson wants an inquiry.
Sir Richard, former president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: “Data needs to be urgently scrutinized. We are very worried about it and particularly side effect data which seems to have been swept under the carpet.”
However, proponents say hundreds of thousands are putting their lives at risk because they have stopped taking the treatment due to fears over their safety.
Mr. Sultan, professor of vascular surgery at the University of Ireland, questioned the link between high cholesterol and heart attacks, highlighting new data, which contradicted this. He also showed evidence from recent studies, which revealed statins accelerate hardening of the arteries, a key risk factor in heart attacks.
But Dr June Raine of the Medicines Healthcare Regulatory Agency said: “The benefits of statins are well established and are considered to outweigh the risk of side effects in the majority of patients.
“The efficacy and safety of statins has been studied in a number of large trials which show they can lower the level of cholesterol in the blood, reduce cardiovascular disease, and save lives. Trials have also shown that medically significant side effects are rare.”