Medical experts have finally agreed that cholesterol-lowering drugs are being given out unnecessarily to people.
But while one school of thought maintains it is purely a cost consideration, and that lowering cholesterol can be as easily achieved by diet, another says that the drugs could be life threatening.
The drugs should be reserved for high-risk patients only, all seem to agree.
Early warnings about the drugs were reported in February 1992 when the BMJ published a paper concluding that patients taking cholesterol-lowering drugs were at increased risk of dying from accidents and violent deaths, or of committing suicide.
Dr George Davey Smith of the University of Glasgow has campaigned for a move away from drug treatment, particularly for people with only moderately high cholesterol levels.
Supporting his conclusions in a recent debate in the columns of the BMJ (16 April 1994) is Prof Malcolm Law at St Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College in London, but there the accord ends. Law maintains that the statistics were skewed and that there is no evidence that the drugs caused deaths.