New U.K. guidelines for heart-attack prevention could be a major windfall for statin-makers. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence wants docs to search their patient rolls for people over 40 at risk of heart attack and stroke--and put them all on the cholesterol-fighting meds. According to agency estimates, 1.5 million more people would thus be added to the millions who already take statins, preventing 15,000 heart attacks, strokes, and angina cases per year.
The caveat: All the patients turned up during this hunt for heart risk will be put on simvastatin, which of course is a generic form of Zocor. So the intitiative is not likely to aid brand-name drugmakers. But if the idea spreads, the likes of Lipitor and Crestor may end up sharing the wealth.