Physicians Often Ignore Patient Complaints About Possible Side Effects Of Statins

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Possible Side Effects Of Statins

Physicians often ignore or dismiss patient complaints aboutpossible side effects of statins, according to a study published lastweek in the journal Drug Safety, the Washington Post reports. For the study, researchers led by Beatrice Golomb, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California-San Diego, surveyed 650 patients, most of whom were in their early 60s and lived in the U.S.

Mostparticipants said they complained to their physicians about musclepain, memory loss, numbness in their hands and feet, or other possibleside effects of statins, the study found. However, participants said inmost cases their physicians attributed the symptoms to aging, deniedtheir link with statins or dismissed them, according to the study.Golomb said, "Person after person spontaneously (told) us that theirdoctors told them that symptoms like muscle pain couldn't have comefrom the drug. We were surprised at how prevalent that experience was."

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She attributed the results of the study in part to a lack ofawareness about the side effects of statins. "Ad campaigns thatpreserve statins' miracle drug image are more powerful than educationabout side effects," Golomb said.

Implications

The study raises concerns about prescription drug safety because, whenphysicians fail to link symptoms with medications, they do not fileadverse event reports with FDA.As a result, FDA might "underestimate the problem, and other doctorsand patients may assume the drug is safer than it is," the Post reports.

Jerry Avorn -- a Harvard Medical Schoolprofessor and author of the book "Powerful Medicines: The Benefits,Risks and Costs of Prescription Drugs" -- said that "there ishorrendous underreporting of side effects," adding that 90% to 99% of"serious side effects are not reported by doctors."

The study"points out that doctor reports on side effects [are] a very unreliablemeans of learning about the true extent of problems," he said, adding,"We ought to have a (better) mechanism for gathering information frompatients. A lot of it will be noise, but there may be important signalsthere as well" (Ganguli, Washington Post, 8/28).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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