Statin use affected by media stories, study finds


Widely covered health stories in the lay media about the risks and benefits of treatment can have an effect on patient behaviour, according to research published in The BMJ
[1] on 28 June 2016. 

Researchers found that there was an increase in the number of patients who stopped taking their prescribed statins following general media coverage of the drug’s risks and benefits between October 2013 and March 2014. 

The broad media interest was triggered by two papers published in The BMJ that questioned the benefits of statins in some patients and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s decision to extend the eligibility of statins from patients with a high (≥20%) ten-year risk of cardiovascular disease to those with an intermediate (≥10%) ten-year risk.

Researchers analysed the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink for patients who had either become eligible for statins or were taking statins to prevent primary and secondary cardiovascular disease prevention monthly from January 2011 to March 2015.

There was no evidence that the general media coverage was associated with any changes in statin initiation among patients at high risk of the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease (odds ratio 0.99 [95% confidence interval [CI] 0.87–1.13]; P=0.92) or the secondary prevention of a recent cardiovascular event and 1.04 (CI 0.92–1.18; P=0.54).

But patients already taking statins were more likely to stop taking them for both primary and secondary prevention after the media coverage period (1.11 [CI 1.05–1.18]; P<0.001) and 1.12 (CI 1.04–1.21; P=0.0003).

Older patients and those with a longer continuous prescription were more likely to stop taking statins after viewing the media coverage compared with others but this trend disappeared after six months.


[1] Matthews A, Herrett E, Gasparrini A et al. Impact of statin related media coverage on use of statins: interrupted time series analysis with UK primary care data. The BMJ 2016;353:i3283. doi: 10.1136/bmj.i3283

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The Pharmaceutical Journal, Statin use affected by media stories, study finds;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2016.20201364

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