Cholesterol lowering drugs or statins have become one of New Zealand's most prescribed medicines. Over half a million people, that's around one in 6 of us, are on statins here in NZ.
The 3 major statins prescribed in NZ, simvastatin, atorvastatin and pravastatin, account for almost 2 million prescriptions every year. That's a lot of statins in the community but they're not for everyone. Side effects, including liver problems and muscle pain and weakness, are thought to affect up to one in ten people taking these drugs.
John Ashton is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the Otago School of Medical Sciences.