Statins Develop Mainstream Cracks in Their Image

January 20, 2011 | Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

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 Statins Develop Mainstream Cracks in Their Image
Several recent studies are throwing water on Big Pharma’s statin parade. Shockingly, mainstream media--who is paid big money by Big Pharma--is running headlines like this, Statins: Bad Idea for People with Good Hearts? At risk is the juggernaut PR machine of Big Pharma and tens of billions of fraudulent drug sales every year.

The CBS article above was generated in response to a press release and article published by the Cochrane Library1. The article sought to establish the cost effectiveness of individuals with high cholesterol but no prior history of a heart attack, taking statins to prevent a first heart attack. This type of patient is now the big push for new statin sales – along with a PR campaign trying to convince us that statins are so good they should be in the drinking water.

The scientists reviewed 14 randomized control trials with 16 trial arms (34,272 patients) dating from 1994 to 2006. All but one of the studies, was funded by the makers of statins. Even with this Big Pharma spin on the results the researchers concluded that the death rate of non-statin takers was 9 per 1000 compared to 8 per 1000 for statin-takers. In other words statins seemed to have prevented one death for a public health taxpayer cost of about $1,000,000.

However, as you might expect, the researchers reported that “there was evidence of selective reporting of outcomes, failure to report adverse events and inclusion of people with cardiovascular disease.” In other words, the saving of one life for $1,000,000 was questionable. Indeed, earlier studies have shown that for every life apparently saved from cardiovascular disease, there is an equivalent number of deaths from other reasons caused by the drugs (accidents, infections, suicide).

Of course, the comparison of statins to something healthy, like the effects of exercise, is never done because the statin would lose. The bottom line from a cost-effective public health point of view is that taking statins to prevent a first heart attack is a complete waste of tens of billions of dollars.

Statins have built their “usefulness” data on studies protecting individuals who have already had a heart attack or stroke from getting a second one. Once again, the purported benefits are never compared to exercise, as statins wouldn’t win.

Shock waves were sent through this strategy earlier this month when researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, concluded that statins should not be given to individuals with a previous brain hemorrhage stroke2 as statins actually increase the risk of getting a second one. This is a common form of stroke that statins are routinely used to treat. This is not what the statin PR machine wanted to hear. The scientists have no idea why statins increase the risk, apparently not understanding the importance of cholesterol to brain function.

Even on the statin industry’s home turf, zealous use of statins to lower numbers to absurdly low levels to prevent a second heart attack or stroke has now been proven a waste. The latest study shows that using high-dose statin therapy3 to force numbers down does not improve mortality risk and has many adverse side effects. The setting of guidelines for this absurd use of a toxic drug was of course done by an “expert panel” wherein most members were consultants for the producers of statin drugs.

Collectively, these mainstream studies are showing that approximately 2/3 to ¾ of current statin sales have no useful purpose or are actually harmful. If we want to reduce health care costs this is a great place to start.

Referenced Studies

  1. ^ Statins for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease  The Cochrane Library  Fiona Taylor, Kirsten Ward, Theresa HM Moore, Margaret Burke, George Davey Smith, Juan-Pablo Casas, Shah Ebrahim.
  2. ^ Statins Increase Risk of a Second Stroke  Archives of Neurology  M. Brandon Westover; Matt T. Bianchi; Mark H. Eckman; Steven M. Greenberg
  3. ^ High Dose Statins Does Not Save Lives  Pharmacology.  Spector R, Snapinn SM.

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