NHS England announces review into access to statins

5 September 2019        

Category: BHF Comment

High dose statins could be made available to patients directly from high street pharmacies, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens announced at the NHS Expo yesterday.

Low dose statins can currently be given over the counter. However, NHS England says it wants to review if giving patients access to more powerful versions through a pharmacist could prevent thousands more deaths and countless more heart attacks.

The move is part of NHS’s Long Term Plan commitment in England to prevent over 150,000 heart attacks and strokes over the next decade.

Extensive research has shown that statins effectively reduce the chances of someone having a heart attack or stroke.

The review into statin access announced by NHS England yesterday will be undertaken by Dr Keith Ridge, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer in England and NHS Director of Primary Care Services Dr Nikki Kanani. The British Heart Foundation will also take part in the review,

Speaking at the NHS Expo yesterday, Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England said:

"Pharmacists are highly trained health professionals who are greatly valued by patients. Since the NHS will be funding local chemists to undertake health checks, it makes sense to consider whether there are a broader range of medicines that patients could access conveniently and locally on the high street.

"So the NHS will now work with the MHRA and industry to see how we can best make this happen.

"After cancer lung scanning trucks in supermarket car parks and High Street heart checks, this is another step towards making care and treatment more accessible, convenient and effective.”

Our response

Commenting on the review, our medical director Professor Sir Nilesh Samani said:

"There is no doubt that giving statins to people at risk of a heart attack or stroke will save lives, and we are committed to working with the NHS to identify more people who could benefit from taking them. 

"Currently, high dose statins are used in patients who have already had a heart attack or stroke as they are at very high risk of further events. For people who haven’t had a heart attack or stroke, starting a statin on a long-term basis is an important decision. It requires a dialogue between a patient and their GP or healthcare provider after an assessment of their overall risk and taking into account patient preference. 

"We welcome the commitment of the NHS in prioritising prevention of heart disease in the Long Term Plan and looking at new ways like pharmacists to deliver health checks. We look forward to working with them on this review.”

Learn more about statins