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Qual Prim Care. 2010;18(5):301-6.

Impact of a policy allowing for over-the-counter statins.

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  • 1Department of Family Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425, USA.



allowing statins to be sold without a prescription has been widely debated in Great Britain, Canada and the USA.


To examine the impact of the recent policy in Great Britain allowing patients to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) 10 mg dose of a cholesterol-lowering drug (simvastatin) on meeting the needs of individuals at moderate risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).


we undertook an analysis of adults (aged >20 years) in the nationally representative 2006 Health Survey for England (HSE, n =10 007). We evaluated the proportion of individuals using OTC statins among all adults aged 20 years and over and among individuals eligible for them according to current guidelines.


among adults in the HSE, 44.1% met the criteria for referral to a general practitioner for CHD risk, 9.7% were eligible for OTC statins and 46.1% did not meet the eligibility for prescribed or OTC statin therapy. Less than 1% (0.7%) were taking OTC statins. The proportion of individuals using OTC statins among those eligible for them was low and comparable to that in the overall population (0.2%). Among those taking OTC statins, 71.5% were also taking prescribed lipid lowering agents.


these results suggest that the aim of addressing the treatment gap among individuals at moderate risk by offering access to OTC statins has not been achieved two years after the implementation of the policy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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