Medicating the Healthy

Again we get a story about statins and in particular, medicating healthy people.

Thousands of heart attacks and strokes could be prevented if the cholesterol-lowering drugs, statins, were more widely prescribed, research suggests.

The study of 175,000 patients, in the Lancet, said even very low-risk patients benefited from the medication.

The Oxford researchers says the NHS should consider giving statins to healthy people. The NHS drugs watchdog, NICE, is reviewing the evidence.

Frankly, I don’t care what the evidence comes up with, medicating healthy people is wrong. We do not need routine drugs to remain healthy. As it is, I am on long term prescription drugs for a minor health problem. I don’t much like it, but like the alternative less, so put up with it. I am not taking even more drugs in the event that I might succumb to another health problem. If I am diagnosed (accurately) with a problem for which statins are the answer, then I will consider taking them. Not before.

However, there has been considerable debate over medicating healthy people – both whether it works at all and if it would be socially acceptable.

I suspect not. However, that doesn’t stop our over zealous medical profession.

“The benefits of giving statins to everyone over the age of 50 would probably save the NHS money in the long run, owing to the savings in health care costs from the heart attacks and strokes prevented.”

This, then, is one of the unintended consequences of socialised healthcare –  the state presumes to take charge of our health management. The state deems it cost effective to medicate us all –  whether we want it or not and if not, don’t be too surprised to find that the NHS cannot afford to treat you when you do fall ill and will decline treatment because you have not taken your pills. Can’t happen? If you are a smoker, drinker or salad dodger you will find that it already has…

However, he [Prof Shah Ebrahim] questioned whether it would be good for people or society to resort to mass medication for lifestyle issues.

We shouldn’t even be needing to ask the question for the answer is so blindingly obvious. At least, it should be.


  1. Never mind that the justification is completely illogical. Everyone has to die, and medical costs are incurred during the last months of life. The NHS would SAVE money if people died younger and more quickly.

    • Well, exactly.

      There is a lot of lack of joined up thinking in ‘government’ generally. From the global encouraging of serious crime from the futile ‘war on drugs’, through the hand wringing and pandering to ‘religious’ schools while preporting to have an equality-based education, to the report the other day about the loss of tax from fuel efficient vehicles having to be ‘made up’ by road pricing, it seems that one office does not know what the other is doing.

      And the sooner that dichotomy is resolved the better off we will be.

  2. “The benefits of giving statins to everyone over the age of 50 would probably save the NHS money in the long run, owing to the savings in health care costs from the heart attacks and strokes prevented.”

    Err no. Utter bullshit. It would transfer millions if not billions more from the taxpayer to big pharma shareholders and owners.

  3. It’s that time of year again:

    Everyone over 55 should be offered statins to cut their risk of heart attacks and strokes, no matter how high their cholesterol or blood pressure readings, a leading doctor said last night.
    (Mail, 5th May 2011)

    Only this time it’s 50 – does that mean that in nine years time they’ll be clamouring to hand them out in primary school? That would really nip the cholesterol business in the bud!

    • These stories do seem to pop up on a semi-regular basis. There’s a kind of weary-making cyclic inevitability about them.

      Must be press release time because pill sales are slowing.

        • Yes; it has raised its ugly head more than once in the past few years – having personal experience of the havoc statins can cause, I have followed your posts on the subject with interest and recommend any reader who has not read them to search this blog for ‘statins’.

          May I quote your post in 2007 – on one of the previous calls for statins for all men aged 50 and over?

          One final point – statins are available over the counter. So, if you are a man over 50 and are worried about cholesterol and cardiovascular problems, you can toddle along to the pharmacist and buy some. Those of us who do not consider ourselves to be at risk can choose not to. End of problem. No need for the state to be involved at all. Or am I missing something here?

  4. Aye. Thalidomide was a “safe wonder drug” as well.

    I don’t shove anything in my mouth that has not been shown to be safe by years of use.

  5. the state presumes to take charge of our health management…
    Except, as Voyager notes, when the religious fuckwits get in on the act.
    So that you can have a brilliant group medical practice, NHS-funded – that DOES NOT DO ANY CONTRACEPTION OR BIRTH CONTROL
    Because of the unbelievably corrupt and evil catholic church having some sort of “hold” on said STATE-FUNDED practice.
    So – we pay for it, but we don’t get it, even if we want and need it, because some vile religous organisation is blackmailing the politicians.

    I’m not sure which is worse – probably the one I’ve listed – because you can always just ahem *not take* the mass-medication statins, or whatever …..

    • XX you can always just ahem *not take* the mass-medication statins, or whatever ….. XX

      Until they start refusing to treat people that don’t. And don’t say “it can’t happen”, or “They won’t”. See smoking and the NHS. To say nothing of private insurance.

      • Yeah, I did pick up on this aspect in the original post. Don’t think for one moment they won’t resort to force if they think it necessary – and to add insult to injury we will have to pay for the privilege with prescriptions at over seven quid a pop.

  6. People should bear in mind the apparently little known fact that the body needs cholesterol. It plays a very important role in the functioning of the brain, amongst other things.

    Statins may be useful in some cases, but the mass-use of them is very likely far more harmful than what it purports to alleviate.

  7. Not according to Prof Colin Baigent in the BBC article:

    “But what we’ve actually learned is that, whatever your level of cholesterol, reducing it further is beneficial.”

    (The NHS has been pushing much the same angle with salt, telling people to reduce their salt intake regardless of how much they actually eat. Last summer, two elderly people of my acquaintance were hospitalised with salt deficiency after obediently following the advice.)

  8. Imagine how much better life would be, if the BBC didn’t exist. All it does 24/7 is pour out this fetid stream of mind-numbing propaganda.

    The BBC version of ‘objective’:

    “Should we set the minimum alcohol price at 50p per unit, or should it be higher?”

    “Is the government doing enough to tackle / boost [insert whatever you like]?”

  9. TT
    We’d get this stream of propaganda anyway.
    What do you think the lying Murdoch press put out, anyway?

    Agree with MacHeath – educated people, as Prof Baigent is, really should know better. He’s talking complete rubbish.
    For instance, I have a naturally low salt-intake (I eat almost no processed foods, and all my vegetables (excepting Onions) are allotment-grown. I have to remember to put lots of salt on my evening meal, especially if I’ve been exercising (Plot-digging/dancing/cycling etc) otherwise I wake up with screaming salt-depletion cramps.

    • Greg,

      the BBC’s the worst offender AND it’s state-run, which means it’s funded through coercion. No one was ever forced to buy the Sun or Sky TV, and people have always been more aware that Murdoch’s media may be biased, unlike the BBC which takes great effort to masquerade as impartial, which it certainly is not.

      But well done for writing a comment without mentioning the evil catholic church. I know you must have struggled.

  10. “The benefits of giving statins to everyone over the age of 50 would probably save the NHS money in the long run, owing to the savings in health care costs from the heart attacks and strokes prevented.”

    It may well save money on heart attack and stroke treatment. However, people will get ill with something else, which will require costly treatment.

    Does the medical profession really not understand this?

    • Douglas Adams came up with the idea of a ‘Somebody Else’s Problem Field’ which rendered even the largest of objects instantly and completely invisible.

      Something of the sort applies in medical research, where any disease or condition apart from the specialist area under scrutiny is regarded as entirely irrelevant.

  11. If we’re going to start medicating “the healthy” then first up is Anti-Psychotic meds for politicians and heads of ALL public service bodies and “charities”.

    After a 5 year trial let’s see what state society is in and consider our options… 😀

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