New Study Finds Safety Information, Side-Effect Warnings Lacking in Statin Sales

New Study Finds Safety Information, Side-Effect Warnings Lacking in Statin SalesThe results of a new British study suggest buyers had best beware when purchasing cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins on the internet, HealthDay reports.

Typically prescribed statins such as Lipitor, Crestor or Zocor may not be the same as they are advertised, often don't include mandated warnings and sometimes don't even require a prescription, the researchers stated.

"A potential purchaser of statins in the U.K., where one can only legally receive them on a doctor's prescription, searching the web for product, is likely to encounter sites from a wide geographical base and of generally poor quality," said lead researcher David Brown, from the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Portsmouth. "Potentially, customers who obtain statins in this way, without their doctor's prescription, may not be aware of potential side effects and may put themselves in harm's way."

The report was featured in the journal Pharmacoepidemiology & Drug Safety on February 2, 2012.

In the study, Brown's team studied 184 websites that offered statins. The researchers noted that information necessary for safe use of the medicine was typically presented poorly and most of the time incomplete.

"Where present, side effect information such as warnings, contraindications and possible side effects was in general, unstructured and unhelpful," Brown said.

The results of the study showed 92 percent of the sites did not include information on contraindications for the medications, while another 47 percent failed to include information on drugs that should not be taken at the same time as statins. What's more, 96 percent of the websites did not include details on adverse symptoms that should be monitored for, such as myopathy, liver disease, hypersensitivity and pancreatitis.

In total, only 7 percent of the sites listed every known side effect of the drug.

Dr. Laurence Gardner, a professor of medicine and executive dean for education and policy at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, stated that people taking statins should have their cholesterol closely watched by a physician to ensure the medicine is working properly and the dose of the drug is accurate for the individual.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, buying medication online is growing in popularity, and the agency is working to keep online sellers legitimate and safe.