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Statin Treatment Non-adherence and Discontinuation: Clinical Implications and Potential Solutions

[ Vol. 20 , Issue. 40 ]


Kim Phan, Yessica-Haydee Gomez, Laura Elbaz and Stella S. Daskalopoulou   Pages 6314 - 6324 ( 11 )


Statins are the most powerful lipid lowering drugs in clinical practice. However, the efficacy of statin therapy, as seen in randomized control trials, is undermined by the documented non-adherence observed in clinical practice. Understanding the clinical consequences of statin non-adherence is an important step in implementing successful interventions aimed at improving adherence. Our previous systematic review included a literature search up to January 2010 on the effects of statin non-adherence or discontinuation on cardiovascular (CV) and cerebrovascular outcomes. We provide an update to this publication and a review of promising interventions that have reported a demonstrated improvement in statin adherence. Through a systematic literature search of PubMed, Ovid Medline, Ovid Embase, CINAHL, Cochrane Library and Web of Science, out of the 3440 initially identified, 13 studies were selected. Non-adherence in a primary prevention population was associated with a graded increase in CV risk. Individuals taking statins for secondary prevention were at particular risk when taking statin with highly variable adherence. Moreover, particular attention is warranted for non-adherence in diabetic and rheumatoid arthritis populations, as non-adherence is significantly associated with CV risk as early as 1 month following discontinuation. Statin adherence, therefore, represents an important modifiable risk factor. Numerous interventions to improve adherence have shown promise, including copayment reduction, automatic reminders, mail-order pharmacies, counseling with a health professional, and fixed-dose combination therapy. Given the complexity of causes underlying statin non-adherence, successful strategies will likely need to be tailored to each patient.


Statins, adherence, discontinuation, cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, interventions, primary prevention, secondary prevention, risk assessment.


, , , FRQS Chercheur-Boursier Clinicien, Associate Professor in Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of Internal Medicine, McGill University, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal General Hospital, 1650 Cedar Avenue, C2.101.4, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3G 1A4.

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