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Controversial New Health Guidelines Have Doctors Alarmed

By Dave Williamson and Michael Douglass – Mar 23, 2014 at 6:00PM

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New cardiovascular recommendations would recommend a dramatic increase in statin use.

"Statin" may not be a word everyone is familiar with, but it represents an everyday occurrence for 40 million Americans. Statins are a class of drug, headlined by Pfizer's (PFE 0.32%) Lipitor, that are used for lowering cholesterol and maintaining good heart health. If new guidelines from the American Heart Association are followed, millions of Americans are about to get a more personal experience with these drugs.

The New England Journal of Medicine highlighted the change from the old system to a new online calculator that takes in to account other contributing heart disease factors, including obesity and smoking. Doctors have pushed back, believing it will lead to overprescribing, as it is estimated an additional 13 million Americans fall under the new rules, increasing the total eligible patient population to half of all U.S. citizens between ages 40 and 75.

In this segment from Friday's Market Checkup, Motley Fool health-care analysts David Williamson and Michael Douglass discuss the new regulations and which drug stocks, if any, are poised to benefit from a 30% increase in the patient population.

David Williamson owns shares of Merck and Pfizer. Michael Douglass and The Motley Fool have no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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