Background: In February 2013, a retired French professor of medicine published a book denying the benefits of statins for cardiovascular prevention. The book was the subject of extensive media coverage and multiple public discussions and debate.
Aims: To investigate the impact of this media event on use of statins among regular users.
Methods: This repeated cohort study used the French claims database sample Échantillon généraliste des bénéficiaires to identify regular statin users and quantify the number who discontinued statins after February 2013, compared to discontinuation patterns in previous years (2011 and 2012). Discontinuation was defined as a gap of at least 2months without statin exposure.
Results: In 2013, 30,725 regular statin users were identified; 29,517 in 2012 and 28,272 in 2011. Statin discontinuation at 9-month follow-up in 2013 was 11.9% (95% confidence interval [CI] 11.5-12.2), compared with 8.5% (95% CI 8.2-8.8) in 2012 and 8.5% (95% CI 8.2-8.8) in 2011. Discontinuation varied according to cardiovascular risk: 19.4% (95% CI 18.2-20.6) in low risk, 11.6% (95% CI 11.1-12.0) in moderate risk, and 7.4% (95% CI 6.8-8.1) in high risk for the 2013 cohort. These discontinuation rates were, respectively, 1.53 (95% CI 1.36-1.72), 1.40 (95% CI 1.31-1.49), and 1.25 (95% CI 1.08-1.46) times higher in 2013 than in 2012 for low risk, moderate risk, or high risk patients.
Conclusions: The rate of statin discontinuation, overall and in each cardiovascular risk group, was greater in 2013 after the media event than in previous years. The clinical impact of the increased discontinuation could be important.
Keywords: Adhérence au traitement; Assurance, santé, remboursement; Communications media; Insurance, health, reimbursement; Medication adherence; Médias; Pharmaco-épidémiologie; Pharmacoepidemiology; Statines; Statins.
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