The Failure of Cardiovascular Medication
Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
February is American Heart Month. It is ironic that in February of 2008 several high profile human cardiovascular drug experiments have turned into disasters for Big Pharma. These findings are sure to shake the misguided consumer confidence in drugs as a mainstay of preventive cardiovascular health. Hanging in the balance are billions of dollars of fraudulent drug sales based on the flimsy argument that changing numbers (blood sugar, cholesterol, or blood pressure) with the use of toxic drugs is somehow the same as actually being healthy. Baby boomers are the target market, a group that had no trouble rebelling in the 60s and 70s. How long will it take them this time to open their eyes to the drug-induced death march of Big Pharma?
On February 6, 2008 the government halted an arm of its ACCORD trial (Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes) because drug treatments in type II diabetics to aggressively lower blood sugar, combined with drugs to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, resulted in a 20% increased risk of death. The ACCORD trial represents all that is wrong with medicine in America today – taking toxic sledgehammers to struggling systems in the body and pulverizing them to abnormally low levels in the name of health. No effort is given to fixing the source of any problem; as such a result is beyond the capability of any drug. Rather, the goal is aggressive symptom management that will foster sales of higher drug doses or drug combinations – while the death toll climbs.
The ACCORD debacle follows closely on the heels of the biggest drug scandal to ever hit America. The Vytorin fraud case involving Merck and Schering-Plough’s bogus cholesterol-lowering drug will grace the front pages of the news for months to come. The unexpected side effect of this scandal is that it is prying open a Pandora’s box of feeble science that backs billions of dollars of questionable sales of cardiovascular medications – which often undermine or even ruin the health of those on the receiving end. Sadly, worsened cardiovascular health is typically the result of ongoing use of almost any type of cardiovascular drug. While a “Just Say No” campaign probably wouldn’t have worked with boomers in the 60s, it is certainly appropriate today for those in reasonably good health with a few points to work on.
Big Pharma and the FDA Cause Americans to Be Injured and Killed
In the past year the FDA has been grilled before Congress as a number of deadly high profile drug scandals like Vioxx, Avandia, and Trasylol have hit the fan. The FDA’s defense: all drugs have side effects and inherent dangers (a surprisingly truthful admission). The FDA’s gross negligence: when drugs are approved the actual risks are still mostly unknown; the FDA has betrayed the trust of the American people by failing to insist upon the required post-marketing safety studies of approved drugs.
This extensive safety problem cannot be solved for at least a decade even if effective corrective actions were underway today (which they aren’t). This leaves consumers in the dark for some time to come, playing a Heath Ledger style Russian roulette with their medicine cabinets. At least 100,000 Americans per year are casualties in this perverted profit-driven system of “health care.” This staggering yearly death toll is somehow swept under the rug.
Many consumers take drugs based on the marketing pieces and glitzy ads of the makers of those drugs, often backed by the fear-mongering of their perk-accepting and Big-Pharma-trained doctor – while FDA managers take six and seven figure job offers at Big Pharma. Big Pharma also funds the mainstream media, research funding at universities, as well as numerous “scientific journals” and “independent” drug-pushing groups like the American Heart Association. Big Pharma also owns both sides of the political aisle. The Big Pharma Golden Idol is a formidable force that has proven time and again that it places drug sales ahead of human health.
Physicians are a Collective Herd of Cowards
Just in case any well-meaning doctor tries to buck the status quo, he or she is blackmailed by their Big-Pharma-tied licensing boards upon threat of losing their livelihood with no way to pay back their medical school tuition or continue their career. It is a known fact that most physicians live in fear of their licensing boards. Should they escape the financial pressures and Big Pharma propaganda machine and become an alternative care physician – they are destined to a life of unfounded harassment – a tactic used mostly to discourage others from joining their ranks.
The sickening and trite direction to “follow the advice of your doctor” has become near meaningless to any person with common sense. Doctors are ethically bound to the Hippocratic Oath, which says to first do no harm. Doctors ignore this oath like Congress ignores our constitution, and have thus become, collectively speaking – an unethical and immoral group. Their actions show their real oath is to Big Pharma and goes something like this “first do no harm to any sales of any drug, or else your licensing board will punish you.” Doing no harm to their patients is low on the list of priorities, which is why 3 million Americans are injured so seriously by their doctor’s prescriptions each year they have to go to the hospital.
Health care in America is no longer patient-centered care. It is Big Pharma-centered care. Doctors have no financial incentive to do a good job of restoring health in their patients. In fact, if they were to make patients well they would lose business. Thus, doctors are in a win-win relationship with Big Pharma at the expensive of human health – a true sickness industry.
The Expansion of the Sickness Industry
In order to expand the sickness industry consumers must be hoodwinked into taking drugs every day for many years. The financial expansion of this industry relies on giving ongoing medications to people who do not have any disease – fabricating a case that doing so will prevent future disease. In the case of cardiovascular medication this means targeting the baby boomer population that is not diseased but has a sign or two that something is not right (high cholesterol, high blood pressure, etc.).
Certainly there are times and appropriate uses for cardiovascular medication. Following a heart attack or stroke medication is needed to guide a person back to health. Some individuals in very poor cardiovascular health have little choice but to follow a regimen of drugs. In order to justify the use of toxic drugs in the name of health, especially combinations of drugs, the risks and dangers of these substances must be greater than the impending health threat. While such a strategy has benefit to a small percentage of current drug users in very poor health, it has very little benefit for prevention in a generally well baby boomer population.
If doctors followed a common sense and appropriate use of drugs Big Pharma would lose 80%-90% of its sales and office visits to doctors would dramatically decline (and the majority of the 100,000 drug-induced deaths per year would stop). The fraud-driven health care costs in our nation would also drastically decline, so that real and needed health care could be more affordable for all.
What if You Have a Cardiovascular Problem?
If your cholesterol is high or your blood pressure is up you have a legitimate cardiovascular concern. However, there is a huge difference between having normal cholesterol or normal blood pressure because you are healthy and having “normal numbers” based on drugging your body. In fact, these two situations are not even remotely the same.
On top of that, it is very difficult to get good advice from your doctor, no matter how nice he or she is or how convincing their drug options may seem when they are presented to you. The facts are as follows:
A Huge Crack in Big Pharma’s Armor
Consumer confidence is everything when it comes to sales. Our housing industry and home values were based primarily on consumer confidence. Banks and Wall Street were able to build their financial scams that have ruined the housing market and construction industry because consumers had confidence in the value of their homes. Once consumer confidence was lost, all hell broke loose. When consumer confidence is propped up by financial shenanigans, the consequences are far and wide.
Likewise, Big Pharma and every player on Big Pharma’s payroll have built a house of cards stacked on consumer confidence with no real evidence or proof that anything they are saying is true. The reason the scandal involving the cholesterol-lowering drug Vytorin is so damaging to the sickness industry is that it directly destroys consumer confidence. The longer it stays in the spotlight the more spillover effect it will have, exposing frauds in the general use of any statin medication to lower cholesterol, the dangerous use of bone drugs to prevent osteoporosis, and over prescribing of mental health drugs (especially with children) – not to mention the entire cancer treatment sickness industry.
Consumer confidence that propels Big Pharma sales of cardiovascular drugs will soon evaporate, since Vytorin will be in the spotlight for some time to come. Vytorin will stay in the spotlight because numerous fraud-related lawsuits have already been filed, the attorney general of New York is investigating, the FDA is investigating (mostly to cover their own rear end), the SEC is investigating insider trading, and Congress is investigating all these issues as well – including the collusion of the American Heart Association with the drug companies involved.
Vytorin was supposed to prevent heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol to new lows. The drug was indeed effective at lowering cholesterol to new lows, fitting nicely with the Big Pharma propaganda that LDL cholesterol levels are the prime cause of heart disease and lowering them is the great gift of drugs to mankind. Consumers have confidence in this line of bull and truly believe it. However, the Vytorin study calls all of this into question – as the drug failed miserably to show that excessively lowering LDL cholesterol improved cardiovascular outcomes or reduced disease – even though it was being used in a patient population of people with serious heart disease. If it can’t help them – who can it help? Certainly not the millions of people taking it for general prevention who are driving the 5 billion in yearly sales – thus the massive number of fraud-related Vytorin lawsuits and other investigations.
Likewise, the ACCORD trial is based on the notion that more drugs in higher doses to control surrogate biomarkers like blood sugar, cholesterol, or blood pressure is better. It is failing – now proven to cause more death not health.
The problem gets worse for Big Pharma. The media is starting to ask basic questions. Even scientists are feeling emboldened to speak up. The tide is changing. Big Pharma propaganda cannot survive even a simple investigation of their flawed theories that propel massive cardiovascular drug sales with little or no benefit.
For example, both statin drugs to lower cholesterol and blood pressure medication cause fatigue, a problem that gets worse with ongoing use. Since energy is the backbone of life and required for any system in your body to function normally – especially the energy-demanding cardiovascular system, how can any drug that causes fatigue possibly be good for cardiovascular health when taken for a decade or longer? Blood pressure medication is so energy-depleting that many people gain 15 pounds or more directly from it in a short period of time. How can gaining that much weight possibly be good for heart health, even if blood pressure numbers look more normal? A person does not need a science degree to understand such basic shortcomings in Big Pharma logic. And these examples are only the tip of the flawed iceberg.
Real Health is the Only Solution
It is hard work to be healthy, there are no quick fixes. A nutritious diet of fresh food, maintaining proper body weight, and consistent activity that maintains fitness are the cornerstones of any person’s optimal cardiovascular health program – and proven to be far superior to any drug or combination of drugs. Dietary supplements that help a person accomplish these goals or maintain them are important tools for many.
Having better cholesterol or blood pressure numbers is only meaningful if they got that way by being healthy. Drugs do not produce health; they are temporary solutions at best. The Vytorin fraud and the ACCORD debacle are the beginning of the end for the mass market consumer confidence that has driven the use of toxic drugs for the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
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