The patient who was switched back to atorvastatin reported experiencing visual symptoms at night on simvastatin.
The clinical outcome ten months after the switch was positive. There was no significant change in blood cholesterol levels and no new diagnoses of ischaemic heart disease or cerebrovascular accidents among the 69 patients who had switched.
137 patients were receiving the blood pressure drug Iosartan. 26 were excluded by the practice pharmacist or doctors and six patients said they didn't want to switch. Of the 115 who switched to candesartan, 108 (94 per cent) stayed on the drug.
The reasons for switching back to the original blood pressure drug ranged from one case of chest tightness to patients requesting a change or feeling anxious about their treatment.
At the ten-month review, no patients had suffered adverse events related to the switch.
The authors have stressed the importance of carefully selecting patients based on sound clinical criteria and making sure that patients are happy with the switch and understand the reasons behind it.
"Indiscriminate switching policies in patients previously well controlled may have inherent risks to those patients, either as a direct result of the medication change or indirectly if the change subsequently affects their relationship with medical services or compliance" adds Juliet Usher-Smith.
"This clearly didn't happen in this study, where patients were carefully selected and, with the exception of a few on blood pressure medication, were happy with the change. "
No adverse events were attributed to the change in medication and the net savings to the practice were significant.
By switching the medication of 185 patients, the practice saved 26,000 - just under two per cent of its annual 1.3 million drugs budget for more than 9,000 registered patients.