The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has published an overview of the benefits and risks of statins, in the wake of recent publicity about the drugs.
Its latest Drug Safety Update for health professionals states that most side-effects are mild and the most frequently reported are muscle pain.
Dr June Raine, the MHRA’s director of vigilance and risk management of medicines, said: “Large clinical trials have shown that statins can save lives.
“We will update the prescribing advice for statins in light of any substantial new evidence of safety concerns,” she added.
Earlier this month, the British Medical Journal announced it was investigating two research articles that it published on statins in October, with the possibility they could be retracted.
The articles, which were widely covered in the media, claimed statins might be unsafe – though they attracted criticism from other experts at the time.
The study authors recently withdrew incorrect figures used in the papers, which suggested up to 20% of users would suffer harmful side effects, such as liver disease and kidney problems.
Maureen Talbot, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “All medicines can have side effects, but the millions of people who take statins in the UK are reducing their risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
“We welcome the MHRA’s review of the evidence and the reassuring message to patients that statins can have life-long health benefits for those assessed to be at high risk from heart disease.”