BREAKING NEWS: Strokecheck strikes out

2 minute read

A pharmacy-based test to purportedly identify stroke risks is being withdrawn after complaints from doctors

In-pharmacy GP clinics promising to identify stroke risks are being packed up after doctors warned the Strokecheck service was needlessly frightening people and sending them for unnecessary tests.

The Strokecheck service, using ultrasound to check for plaque in major arteries, has been pulled from Amcal pharmacies, parent company Sigma announced on Wednesday. 

“Sigma is aware of recent concerns relating to the Strokecheck program being offered within Amcal pharmacies,” the drug giant said. 

“This program is run by Strokecheck, an independent charity and not-for profit organisation, offering services by a qualified GP utilising the consulting suite of the pharmacy.  

“Whilst an early review of the program has indicated some positive results for patients, the program has been suspended whilst a further review is undertaken.” 

GPs have complained that patients appeared with “clinically useless” scan reports after being referred for a sonogram by a doctor at an Amcal pharmacy-based mobile clinic, having been lured by ads for the “free” service.   

A report seen by The Medical Republic merely showed tick boxes indicating the patient had stenosis, plaque, fatty liver, and thyroid mass.  

After the patient’s doctor demanded a detailed report, a document arrived that made no mention of the thyroid mass and the fatty liver.  

The Stroke Foundation said it had taken more than 20 calls from well patients who had been wrongly told they were at risk.   

Several prominent doctors have issued warnings about the service, telling the public they should see their own GP if they had any concerns about stroke. 

Dr Bernard Bourke, President of the Australia and New Zealand Society of Vascular Surgeons, said the US Preventive Services Taskforce had reviewed the use of ultrasound to identify stroke risk and recommended against it.  

Dr Bourke said he was concerned the Strokecheck scheme was a “rip-off” and patients were being frightened by “disease mongering”.  


Strokecheck clinicians started providing the service at Amcal pharmacies in January.  They have also provided the service at aged-care facilities and corporate settings, TMR has learned. 

Records show Strokecheck was registered as a charity in August 2016, but it appears to have no relationship with groups in the sector such as the Stroke Foundation.  

“Strokecheck is not associated with or endorsed by the Stroke Foundation,” Associate Professor Tim Kleinig, a member of the Stroke Foundation’s Clinical Council, said. 

“Carotid artery screening for stroke prevention is a highly controversial area and is not endorsed by national or international guidelines. The Stroke Foundation does not support medical tests that may be unnecessary.”

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