The NHS is looking at making high-dose statins available over the counter from community pharmacies, it was announced yesterday (4 September).

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said NHS England and NHS Improvement will review how high-dose statins could be made available on the high street as part of the long-term plan’s goal to cut heart disease and stroke.

Currently, low-dose statins are available over the counter, but the NHS has said making more powerful versions 'safely available' without a GP prescription could prevent 'thousands' more deaths.

It is estimated that two-thirds of people who are most at risk of heart attacks and strokes do not take statins but would benefit from them, NHS England said.

The review findings will be presented to manufacturers and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which will have the final say, NHS England added.


‘Access to broader range of medicines makes sense’


Mr Stevens told delegates at yesterday’s Expo healthcare and innovation conference in Manchester: '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.

He added: 'After lung cancer scanning trucks in supermarket carparks and high street heart checks, this is another step towards making care and treatment more accessible, convenient and effective. The NHS will now work with the MHRA and industry to see how we can best make this happen.’

Chief pharmaceutical officer Dr Keith Ridge added that 'hundreds of thousands' of people could benefit if there was more committed research to allow high-dose statins to be made available on the high street.

He said: 'Used appropriately, statins are effective and can save lives.

'Hundreds of thousands of people could benefit if the industry committed more research and investment in bringing high-dose statins to the high street. The NHS is going to be driving forward these efforts as we save thousands of lives from deadly heart attacks and strokes as part of our long-term plan.'