Physicians, Consumers Give Views on OTC Statins

Published Online: Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Statins going OTC was the topic of 2 attitudinal surveys conducted recently by the National Lipid Association (NLA). The surveys were created to make recommendations regarding the pros and cons of statins as possible OTC treatments. The surveys are part of a yearlong initiative the NLA is heading to acquire scientific knowledge, assess consumer and health professional attitudes, and make suggestions regarding the benefits and challenges of OTC statin drugs.

In the physician survey, 59% said that it was "important to have the FDA and other leading health organizations evaluate the possibility of making OTC statins available for people with moderate risk of coronary heart disease [CHD]." The survey also showed that 92% of doctors believe that CHD is "among the most important health problems" and that 78% think "cholesterol reduction would benefit public health." The physicians said that they were open to an OTC concept but were remaining cautious. Concerns about OTC statins included safety issues?such as potential drug?drug interactions, side effects, and the patient's ability to self-manage their use.

On the consumer side, the survey found that patients are taking a more active role in their own health management and decision making. For example, 54% of those identified as at moderate risk for heart disease (10%-20% 10-year risk of heart attack or sudden cardiac death) and currently not receiving drug treatment said that they are making more health decisions now, compared with 5 years ago. A tiny percentage, 1%, said that they are unwilling or unable to take part in their own health management.

When polled about OTC statins, >50% of the consumers at moderate risk and not currently receiving treatment said that they would be highly likely to take an OTC statin. When questioned about how they would reach this decision, 83% said that they would talk with their physician or another health professional before making the OTC switch.

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