1. In an article in The BMJ, Mark Baker of NICE admitted that 77 people would need to take statins for 3 years for 1 person to benefit. He justified this on the grounds that, with blood pressure (BP) lowering drugs, 104 patients would have to be treated for 1 to benefit. What is even worse is that this information only applied to those who had already suffered heart disease. However, when statins were used for primary prevention, which effectively was what was being proposed, there was no benefit in terms of improvement in life expectancy. According to the authoritative NNT (Numbers Needed to Treat) website, when statins are used for primary prevention, there are no lives saved although 1 in 60 was helped by preventing a heart attack and 1 in 268 avoided a stroke7.
It is obvious that the benefits of statin use are minimal. There can be no rational justification for using statins for primary prevention because there is not a shred of reliable evidence to support that case. On the other hand, there are definite concerns about the ADRs, which almost certainly are much greater than is officially recognised. Although there may be limited benefit for middle-aged men who suffer from heart disease, this is minimal compared with what can be achieved with dietary changes.