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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 May, 2005, 19:27 GMT 20:27 UK
Cholesterol drug death one in 10m
Ivor Meacher
Ivor Meacher was told the drug did carry a risk
A verdict of death by misadventure has been recorded on a Devon man who died of liver and kidney failure he was put on cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Ivor Meacher, 71, from Okehampton, was prescribed the drugs for coronary heart disease but died in August 2004.

The inquest heard he probably suffered a side effect experienced by just one in 10m people before his death at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.

The coroner is to send the case details to the Medicines Control Agency.

Serious side effects of this nature are shown to date to be about one in 10m
Sue Baxendale, solicitor

Mr Meacher was prescribed atorvastatin to reduce his cholesterol after an angiogram showed he had coronary heart disease.

His GP, Dr Timothy Watson, told him the drug did carry a risk of liver failure as a side effect.

Five weeks later, Mr Meacher was admitted to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital with liver dysfunction, from which he later died.

Members of his family said they we shocked at his death because he had always looked after his health.

His daughter, Jay Ballard, said: "I feel he was robbed of 10 years of his life.

"He was so fit, a former tennis champion, he always took care of himself."

Benefits against risks

The inquest at Exeter heard from a liver specialist and a consultant histopathologist who both said they believed atorvastatin was the most likely cause of the liver failure, though it was not possible to be certain.

The inquest was also told the benefits of using the drugs outweighed the risks.

Solicitor Sue Baxendale, representing the hospital, said: "There is between 25% and 30% reduction in heart attacks, strokes and deaths among patients taking statins but side effects are very rare.

"Serious side effects of this nature are shown to date to be about one in 10m."

Exeter Coroner Elizabeth Earland will send details of Ivor Meacher's case to the Medicines Control Agency to advise that statins continue to be closely monitored.


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