Published: 05/12/2002, Volume112 No. 5834 11

Page Statins: some slight relief One pressure which may ease slightly is around statins, which will begin to come off patent next year unless drugs companies are granted an extension.As they have been some of the key drugs prescribed under the coronary heart disease framework this could offer some respite.

The government has also indicated that primary care trusts will get extra cash specifically for statins over the next three years as part of the comprehensive spending review.

Currently statins cost around£30 per patient per month.What makes them expensive is the number of patients who could benefit from them, often more than 10 per cent of a practice's patients.

Dr Tony Snell, medical adviser and clinical governance lead for four PCTs in east Kent, says his area should save at least£500,000 once statins go generic: if their price falls significantly, the savings for large PCTs could be hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.

However, not everyone who could benefit from statins is currently prescribed them and there is some evidence that they could be of benefit to an even wider section of the population.The benefits of price cuts could be off-set by increased numbers receiving prescriptions.