New Entry in the History of Bad Ideas

Buying statins from a website a bad idea

History is full of bad ideas with tragic consequences. Like buying statins without a prescription over the internet. Why is buying statins from a website a bad idea? A new study out of the University of Portsmouth, England, gives the answer.

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The researchers looked at 184 sites selling statins on the internet. They discovered a dangerous lack of information on the side effects and possible interaction with other drugs from the mail-order providers. More than 90 percent of the sites had zero warnings on counter indications, and slightly fewer than half mentioned potential drug interactions. Necessary warnings about symptoms of myopathy (muscle changes), liver disease, hypersensitivity and pancreatitis were absent in 37, 48.4, 91.3, and 96.2% of sites respectively. “Most websites presented a chaotic and incomplete list of known side effects,” say the researchers, with only about 65 percent even attempting to describe side-effects in lay language.

And if that isn’t enough to convince you that buying statins over the internet is a bad idea, there’s this exclusive TBE comment from Steven Nissen, MD, chair of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic and co-author of the new book, Heart 411:

“Consumers who seek prescription medications through the internet are taking big risks with their health,” says Dr. Nissen. “The decision whether to prescribe a medication, even for very safe drugs like statins, requires a conversation between the patient and his or her physician. Such conversations should always include the indications for the drug, possible adverse effects, and a plan for monitoring the results of the therapy. Commercial websites offering prescription drugs lack most of these safeguards and should be avoided.”

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Referenece: Brown et al. Direct to Consumer Internet Advertising of Statins: An Assessment of Safety. Pharmacoepidemiology & Drug Safety 2012: DOI: 10.1002/pds.3208.

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