Statins, the cholesterol-lowering agents, have become the single most successful drug family in the world with annual sales of $20 billion. But some heart specialists are concerned that they may not be the wonder drug they're cracked up to be - in fact, they may cause congestive heart failure (CHF).
One statin, Baycol, was withdrawn after 31 people died while on the drug. Other documented side-effects include cancer, nerve damage, memory loss and other cognitive problems. There's also the strong possibility that statins may cause diabetes, and that they deplete the body's natural store of antioxidants.
So with that track record, it's not surprising that the UK drug watchdog last month made them available at every pharmacy without the need of a prescription.
Better yet, one pharmacy group is taking full advantage of the relaxation of controls by touting statins around Britain's pubs, where they think the drinkers and smokers are most likely to be potential customers.
The Co-Op Pharmacy will be offering on-the-spot health checks for high cholesterol to regulars at pubs and clubs before offering them some statins. The Co-Op will set up stalls in clubs, pubs and community centres in trial areas as a first stage.
At least we're keeping a tight rein on vitamins.
* If statins are a health risk, what else can you do to reduce cholesterol? Find out in the WDDTY guide Your Healthy Heart. Your copy is just a click away, so click here: http://www.wddty.co.uk/shop/details.asp?product=110