A TERMINALLY ill Bournemouth man is questioning whether a commonly prescribed cholesterol-lowering drug is to blame for his motor neurone disease.

Former manager Malcolm Chapman was put on simvastatin and blood pressure tablets in December 2009 after going to his GP complaining of constant tiredness. At the time, he was three stone overweight.

Mr Chapman claims he was never told why he was being given simvastatin. His cholesterol level was not monitored and he was not warned that statins can cause muscle weakness.

In February last year, Mr Chapman, of Boscombe, developed weakness around his knee. “My mind became confused and the muscle weakness spread to my face. I could no longer laugh or cry properly,” he recalled.

The following month, his left leg gave way under him and his voice had become slurred. His wife Susan took him to Royal Bournemouth Hospital’s emergency department, but he was sent home after a scan and a blood test.

His GP referred him to a neurologist, but while waiting for an appointment, Mr Chapman stopped taking his medication.

In July the specialist said he had compressed discs in his back, had not suffered a stroke and did not have motor neurone disease.

Mr Chapman, 62, was finally diagnosed with MND at Southampton last October and told he only had a year or two to live. Although he can still walk, his speech is hard to understand and he needs round-the-clock care from his wife and daughter Zoe.

“I want to warn people to be careful. If they don’t have heart problems, they shouldn’t go on statins, and if they do, they should be monitored,” he said.

In 2007, a World Health Organisation’s international drug monitoring centre called for further research after an unusually high rate of MND-type symptoms in people on statins.

But a spokesperson for NHS Bournemouth and Poole said: “According to the authoritative NHS Evidence source, Motor Neurone Disease is not an identified side-effect of statins.

“A system exists by which GPs are encouraged to report adverse drug reactions so the likelihood of such a link would become obvious very quickly.

“Statins have been very widely prescribed since the mid-1990s, which means that some recipients may develop Motor Neurone Disease for quite unrelated reasons.”