OTC statins: a bad decision for public health. Lancet. 2004; 363:(9422)

Statins without a prescription? Statins without a prescription?. 2021. (accessed 16 January 2022)

Demasi M, DuBroff R. The Fallacy of OTC Statin Therapy. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2021; 78:(25)

Kendrick M. The Clot Thickens.Australia: Amazon Au; 2021

Mainous AG, Baker R, Everett CJ, King DE. Impact of a policy allowing for over-the-counter statins. Qual Prim Care. 2010; 18:301-306

Nasir K, Bittencourt MS, Blaha MJ Implications of Coronary Artery Calcium Testing Among Statin Candidates According to American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Cholesterol Management Guidelines MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis). J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015; 66:(15)1657-1668

NHS England. NHS to review making statins available direct from pharmacists as part of Long Term Plan to cut heart disease. 2019. (accessed 17 January 2022)

Nissen SE. Statin Denial: an internet-driven cult with deadly consequences. Ann Intern Med. 2017;

Nissen SE, Hutchinson HG, Wang TY Technology-Assisted Self-Selection of Candidates for Nonprescription Statin Therapy. J Am Coll Cariol. 2021; 78:(11)1114-1123

Vamvakopoulos JE, Kountouri M, Marshall T, Greenfield SM. Lifestyle or Life-Saving Medicines? A Primary Healthcare Professional and Consumer Opinion Survey on Over-the-Counter Statins. Ann Pharmacother. 2008; 42:413-20

Over-the-counter statins

02 February 2022
Volume 4 · Issue 2


After the UK became the first country to make an over-the-counter statin available in 2004, George Winter delves into whether this precedent should be continued, and the various ongoing debates surrounding statin sales

An editorial in the Lancet noted that in 2004 the UK became the first country to make an over-the-counter (OTC) statin - simvastatin - available for those at moderate risk of coronary heart disease, despite no trials of OTC statins for primary heart disease having been undertaken, and in the absence of data on compliance with OTC statins (Anonymous, 2004).

Was it successful? Vamvakopoulos et al (2008) carried out a self-administered questionnaire survey of GPs, community pharmacists, and potentially eligible consumers eight months after the UK launch of OTC simvastatin. The survey found that OTC availability of statins was not considered a popular public health intervention by consumers and GPs because of a perception that the drugs would be prone to misuse, although ‘OTC availability was favoured by pharmacists, who saw this as empowering both for consumers and themselves’ Vamvakopoulos et al (2008). When Mainous et al (2010) evaluated the proportion of eligible individuals aged 20 years and over, using OTC statins, they found that ‘less than 1% of Great Britain's population were using OTC statins. Among those taking OTC statins, 71.5% were also taking prescribed lipid-lowering agents … [and] … Improving the use of statins by the target at-risk population remains an elusive goal (Mainous et al, 2010).

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting Journal of Prescribing Practice and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for prescribing professionals. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to our clinical or professional articles

  • New content and clinical newsletter updates each month