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Clofibrate

Volume 960: debated on Friday 15 December 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what action he is taking in the light of recent reports of possible harmful effects from the drug clofibrate.

The Committee on Safety of Medicines has studied the results of a number of recent studies of clofibrate, including the WHO primary prevention study. Because of doubts about the value of clofibrate in the prevention of fatal heart attacks and concern about an associated increase in the incidence of gall bladder disease, the committee feels that it should not be used routinely in treating patients with raised cholesterol levels. However, there is no doubt that clofibrate is effective in reducing abnormally high levels of cholesterol and other similar substances in the majority of patients treated. At present the committee sees no reason to recommend the drug's withdrawal but will continue to monitor closely events relating to its use. It is a matter of clinical judgment whether or not to use clofibrate in individual cases.An item on the benefits and risks of treatment with clofibrate will be included in the next edition of the committee's publication "Current Problems" shortly to be issued to all doctors and dentists in the United Kingdom. Arrangements are in hand for warnings in manufacturers' data sheets to be strengthened to emphasise the increased incidence of gall stones amongst patients treated with this drug.