Study protocol for statin web-based investigation of side effects (StatinWISE): a series of randomised controlled N-of-1 trials comparing atorvastatin and placebo in UK primary care.

Herrett, E. ; Williamson, E. ; Beaumont, D. ; Prowse, D. ; Youssouf, N. ; Brack, K. ; Armitage, J. ; Goldacre, B. ; MacDonald, T. ; Staa, T.V. ; Roberts, I. ; Shakur-Still, H. ; Smeeth, L. ;
Study protocol for statin web-based investigation of side effects (StatinWISE): a series of randomised controlled N-of-1 trials comparing atorvastatin and placebo in UK primary care.
BMJ Open, 2017; 7(12):e016604

Statins are effective at preventing cardiovascular disease, widely prescribed and their use is growing. Uncertainty persists about whether they cause symptomatic muscle adverse effects, such as pain and weakness, in the absence of statin myopathy. Discrepancies between data from observational studies, which suggest statins are associated with excess muscle symptoms, and from randomised trials, which suggest no such excess, have caused confusion. N-of-1 trials offer the opportunity to establish whether muscle symptoms during statin use are caused by statins in particular individuals.

This series of 200 randomised, double-blinded N-of-1 trials in primary care will determine (1) the effect of statins on all muscle symptoms and (2) the effect of statins on muscle pain that is perceived to be statin related. Patients who are considering discontinuing statin use due to muscle symptoms and those who have discontinued in the last 3 years due to such symptoms will be recruited. Participants will be randomised to a sequence of six 2-month treatment periods during which they will receive atorvastatin 20 mg per day or matched placebo. On each of the last 7 days of each treatment period, participants will rate their muscle symptoms on a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS).At the end of their trial, participants will be shown numerical and graphical summaries of their own symptom data during statin and placebo periods. The primary analysis on the aggregate data from all participants will be a linear mixed model for VAS muscle symptom score, comparing scores during treatment with statin and placebo.

This trial received a favourable opinion from South Central-Hampshire A Research Ethics Committee. Results will be published in a peer-reviewed medical journal. Dissemination of results to patients will take place via the media, website (statinwise.lshtm.ac.uk) and patient organisations.

ISRCTN30952488.