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Published on 26 April 2011

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Doctors query drugs for prevention

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Doctors have claimed there is no evidence to support prescribing a range of drugs to prevent, rather than treat, illnesses.

A Finnish group of doctors said using statins and antihypertensives to prevent heart disease and stroke or bisphosphonates to prevent fractures should be reassessed.

Their research, published in the British Medical Journal, was based on analysis of data from 2003 which focused on 7,411 hip fractures in Finland. They estimated that giving bisphosphonates to all 1.86 million people aged 50 and over would only provide guaranteed prevention for 343 fractures.

Teppo Jarvinen, from the University of Tampere, led the research which claimed that the clinical trials used to support these preventative drugs have carefully selected patients who receive special attention.

The authors argue that the benefits witnessed during these clinical trials are not replicated in the real world, with there being no valid data on their effectiveness, and particularly cost effectiveness, in day-to-day clinical care.

It is claimed that there should be adequate testing in a real-world setting before cost effectiveness is used to guide treatment policies.

The authors said: “All relevant parties (doctors, patients, patient advocacy groups, drug industry, and government regulatory bodies) should acknowledge that it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that we have true cost effectiveness data on all preventive healthcare before it is approved for wider use and reimbursed by the government.”

Copyright © Press Association 2011

BMJ



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