Health Supreme by Sepp Hasslberger

Networking For A Better Future - News and perspectives you may not find in the media

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October 17, 2003

Cholesterol - what a business plan

When cholesterol was identified as health-enemy number one, we switched from butter to margarine and did without eggs for years, in an effort to avoid falling prey to the oily killer.

At the same time, a whole pharmaceutical product sector, accounting for revenues in the $ billions, magically appeared to sell us pills. The sales pitch was: "Protect your heart - lower your cholesterol" or any variation of that mantra.

In reality, cholesterol is just about irrelevant in heart disease. This well known but not well publicized truth has just received further scientific confirmation, Jenny Thompson of the Baltimore Health Sciences Institute tells us in her latest e-Alert.

But no fear - che cholesterol business will not be suffering. Everything is still going according to plan. AstraZeneca is set to spend as much as $1 billion to promote Crestor - a cholesterol lowering drug like Pfizer's Lipitor - in the U.S this year and guess how many billions they expect to make.

Probably there has not been a more profitable myth than the one built around cholesterol, in the history of the pharmaceutical industry. Do we really have to support this business?

A growing number of researchers and health professionals think we shouldn't. See The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics. See particularly this article by Uffe Ravnskov: The Benefits of High Cholesterol
People with high cholesterol live the longest. This statement seems so incredible that it takes a long time to clear one's brainwashed mind to fully understand its importance. Yet the fact that people with high cholesterol live the longest emerges clearly from many scientific papers.


Cresting the Wave

Health Sciences Institute e-Alert

October 15, 2003


Less than a month ago, international drug giant AstraZeneca (AZ) launched a new cholesterol-lowering statin drug called Crestor. AZ reps claim their Crestor is less expensive and more effective than Lipitor (made by Pfizer), the drug that dominates the statin market, grossing about $8 billion per

But in light of a recent study that reveals conclusions about LDL levels and arterial plaque that would shock the mainstream, these are hard times for any statin drug manufacturer.

I'm just kidding, of course. Not about the study. That's real. But the study received almost no mainstream media coverage whatsoever. By all appearances, the astronomical profits of Lipitor and its new competitor, Crestor, are quite safe.

Voice in the crowd

In what should have been terrible news for any statin drug manufacturer, a recent study reported in the American Journal of Cardiology casts serious doubts on the commonly held mainstream belief that lowering your LDL cholesterol is the most effective way to reduce arterial plaque.

Researchers at Beth Israel Medical Center (BIMC) in New York City examined the coronary plaque buildup in 182 subjects who took to lower cholesterol levels. One group of subjects used the drug aggressively (more than 80 mg per day), while the balance of the subjects took less than 80 mg per day. Using electron beam tomography, the researchers measured plaque in all of the subjects before and after a study period of more than one year.

The subjects were generally successful in lowering their cholesterol, but in the end there was no statistical difference in the two groups in the progression of arterial calcified plaque. On average, subjects in both groups showed a 9.2 percent INCREASE in plaque buildup. The BIMC concluded that the LDL cholesterol mantra that "lower is better" could not be supported by their findings.

Now, did you hear this news shouted from the rooftops? Of course not. Did you hear it at all before today? Reuters Health covered it, but not one major news outlet picked it up. And while further research is called for to corroborate the results, this was a significant trial that flies in the face of the cholesterol message we're bombarded with daily in commercials and mainstream commentary.

It's as if the little boy who cried out, "The emperor has no clothes!" made his observation during rush hour in Times Square. What's that, kid? Cholesterol what? Sorry, can't hear you. Gotta run.

Not one, but two...

The BIMC study is far from the last word on the cholesterol issue. But it's not the first time research has concluded that LDL cholesterol is not quite the terrible killer that drug ads and cereal commercials tell us to fear.

Last year the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study that used data from more than 10,000 participants in the Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial; better known as ALLHAT. Following the subjects over a period of four years, researchers compared the use of a statin drug to "usual care" (maintaining proper body weight, no smoking, regular exercise, etc.) in treating subjects with moderately high levels of LDL cholesterol.

Of the 5170 subjects in the group that received , 28% lowered their LDL cholesterol significantly. And of the 5185 usual-care subjects, about 11% had a similar drop in LDL. More importantly, however, both groups showed the same rates of death, heart attack and heart disease.

So the statin group lowered its LDL more than twice as effectively as the usual-care group, but didn't experience any fewer heart attacks than the usual-care group; not exactly a ringing endorsement for risking the side effects of .

The right track

One report I read estimates that AstraZeneca is planning to spend as much as $1 billion to promote Crestor in the U.S this year. With drug companies willing to devote that kind of money to convince us that cholesterol should be our number one health fear, I'm afraid it's going to be a long time before the general public gets the message that lowering LDL cholesterol is not the urgent end-all and be-all of heart health.

Next week I'll take a closer look at the fascinating marketing battle that's already underway between AstraZeneca's Crestor and Pfizer's Lipitor. In the meantime, we'll continue to focus on this reality: Reducing homocysteine, triglyceride, and C-reactive protein levels is much more important to heart health than worrying about your cholesterol. And the best way to reduce all of those levels is to exercise, maintain a proper body weight, don't smoke, limit alcohol consumption, increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, cut out the junk foods in favor of the soluble fiber in fruits and vegetables, and take supplements that are known to protect the heart.

Easy as popping a pill? No. Effective? Yes. And worlds safer than prescription drugs.

To start receiving your own copy of the HSI e-Alert, go here

Related articles:

The Cholesterol Myths - by Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD

Forget cholesterol

Fat and cholesterol - a nutty myth

The disease racket

Ban Trans Fats - The campaign to ban partially hydrogenated oils

Here is an update of 20 October - courtesy of Jenny Thompson, Health Sciences Institute

Crashing the Market

Health Sciences Institute e-Alert

October 20, 2003


Dear Reader,

Most of us can't help it. When we see a car wreck on the highway, we slow down to catch a glimpse. That's the feeling I had while reading about two drug giants colliding in the marketplace. And it's shaping up to be quite a car wreck. So we're going to slow down a bit to take a look.

In last week's "Cresting the Wave" (10/15/03) I told you about the launch of a new cholesterol-lowering statin drug called Crestor, manufactured by AstraZeneca (AZ), the fifth largest drug company in the world. AZ reps have made no secret of their hopes that Crestor will effectively rival Pfizer's Lipitor, the long-time statin king with annual sales of about $8 billion. Excuse me for saying it, but that takes some brass.

Brass bumpers, that is. Because when you gun your car through that kind of heavy traffic, you're bound to get banged around by the FDA approval process and insurance companies, while charting a high-speed collision course with the big Hummer: Lipitor.

Quick - someone call 911!

How fast was I going, officer?

AstraZeneca's pitch for Crestor is that it's less expensive and more effective than Lipitor, with similar side effects. And the new drug is already selling like hotcakes in the U.K., Canada, and several other countries where it's been available since last February.

Meanwhile, here in the U.S., the FDA pulled Crestor over for doing 80 in a 40.

In the original clinical trials presented to the FDA, some of the subjects who took 80 mg developed kidney damage. (Not really all that shocking given that, as a class of drugs, statins have always been associated with kidney toxicity.) So the folks at the FDA said, "Try again," and AZ resubmitted Crestor at doses of 40 mg or less. The FDA gave the green light, and Crestor was introduced in the U.S in September.

Stuck in traffic

Within just a couple of weeks of Crestor's U.S. launch, AstraZeneca announced that the new drug had already captured more than 2 percent of the new prescriptions written for in the U.S. These impressive stats were released at a high-profile meeting with investors at AZ's U.S. headquarters in Fairfax, VA. But the party was spoiled when, that very same day, Wellpoint (the second largest private health insurer in the U.S.) announced that prescriptions for Crestor would not be covered because of concerns over the safety of the drug.

This was a blow. It meant that more than 13 million Americans in the Wellpoint system would have to pay for Crestor out of pocket. But perhaps even worse than that, when reps forWellpoint made the announcement, they used the "B" word: Baycol.

Baycol was A.G. Bayer's entry into the statin market a few years ago, and talk about car wrecks! In the e-Alert "Pot, Meet Kettle" (3/5/03) I told you how Baycol had been yanked from the market in 2001 because of adverse reactions, including acute kidney failure and more than 30 deaths. Bayer was sued by thousands of patients, and spent well over a $1 million settling many of the cases out of court.

So when Dr. Robert Seidman, Wellpoint's chief pharmacy officer, told reporters that the insurance company was being cautious because, "We've already been Baycolled," the seed of doubt was planted by making the association between Bayer's dangerous product and the kidney problems attributed to Crestor in those early 80 mg trials that the FDA rejected.

So was Wellpoint simply protecting clients by denying the Crestor coverage? Tom McKillop, AZ's chief executive, reportedly told a writer for, "I don't believe for a moment that it's about side effects."

Crazy like a fox

Less than a week after Wellpoint ruined AZ's day, Reuters reported that a new UK study had revealed that in a group of 14,000 heart disease patients, statins failed to lower cholesterol to recommended levels in about half the subjects. The headline read: " Fail Half UK Heart Patients-Study."

Now you might think that on the heels of this news AZ executives would have started pulling out their hair again, but not so. Because the this study focused on were the older statins, such as atorvastatin (brand name: Lipitor) and simvastatin (brand name: Zocor). The newer type of statin drug known as rosuvastatin (brand name: Crestor) wasn't included in the study.

So this was a lucky break for AZ, right? Well, it was perhaps more than just a break. Because the research was sponsored by AstraZeneca. I'm not saying anyone falsified the results. They didn't need to. Previous studies have already shown that significantly lower cholesterol in less than half of those who take them. So the "failed" effectiveness was virtually a foregone conclusion.

I brake for drug giants

See where this is going? With large shares of a $20-billion-per-year statin market at stake, the players in this market aren't going to leave anything to chance.

According to one report, AstraZeneca may be planning to invest as much as $1 billion to promote Crestor this year. That means two things:
1) We'll be seeing even more commercials warning us that we must save our lives by taking statins to lower our cholesterol, and
2) These Goliaths - Crestor and Lipitor - are on a collision course, with Zocor right there in it with them as well.

I'll keep you posted as more details are reported. Until then... buckle up! It's going to be a bumpy ride.

See also related:

Petition calls on World Health Organization to investigate Statin Drug Use
Statin therapies are being prescribed to people around the globe. Evidence has emerged that statins can be hazardous to health. The prime rationale for their use is the notion that raised cholesterol is harmful. However, much evidence suggests that a low serum cholesterol is associated with depression, suicide, muscle damage, memory loss and general ill-health. The petition calls on the World Health Organisation to initiate a full and impartial, global investigation into the damage caused by therapeutic doses of all available statins, for the treatment of all forms of hypercholesterolaemia. There are far too many casualties of statin therapy for them all to be statistically insignificant.

The Statin Scam Marches On
Considering that tens of millions of Americans now take statins to lower cholesterol, the following headline was conspicuously absent from the major media this month: "Statins Found to Turn On Gene that Causes Muscle Damage." It's now a fact of science; a new study shows that taking statins destroys your muscle to a greater or lesser degree. And let's not forget that the heart is a muscle.

Place this study juxtaposed to another rather interesting recent finding: the more fit you are the longer you will live and the two just don't add up. How can you destroy muscle and be more fit? You can't. Sure you can drug your cholesterol number lower, but will you be healthier, fit, and live longer?

CHEM/PHARM HAS NO EQUAL - WHAT A BUSINESS PLAN! - By Ashley Simmons Hotz, RedFlags Weekly

Cholesterol Guidelines Frought With Massive Conflict of Interest

The Vitamin C Foundation's Statin Drug Alert

Cholesterol-buster raises safety concerns

Lipitor - The Human Cost

Vitamin C beats statins in cholesterol - heart disease

Low cholesterol linked to higher death rate: study
In what scientists are calling a "cholesterol paradox," new research is linking low cholesterol with a higher death rate in people with heart failure -- the opposite of what researchers expected. A study of 10,701 patients with suspected heart failure found those with low cholesterol were 1.7 times more likely to die within 12 weeks of being hospitalized than people with normal cholesterol. Having very low cholesterol was nearly as dangerous as having very high cholesterol, says Dr. Periaswamy Velevan, a research fellow in cardiology at the University of Hull in England.

Let them eat cake, butter, cream ... For decades the advice has been to cut cholesterol and protect your heart. Now some doctors think it makes no difference

Statinalert Org

Is cholesterol really deadly?

Groups Blast New Cholesterol Guidelines

Cholesterol, Lipitor, and Big Government: The Terror Campaign Against Us All

The Truth About Deadly Cholesterol Lowering Drugs

From June Russell's Health Facts:
Eggs and Cholesterol - Controversy and Deception

Is High Cholesterol Really Bad?
People with high cholesterol live the longest. This statement seems so incredible that it takes a long time to clear one's brainwashed mind to fully understand its importance. Yet the fact that people with high cholesterol live the longest emerges clearly from many scientific papers. Consider the finding of Dr. Harlan Krumholz of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Yale University, who reported in 1994 that old people with low cholesterol died twice as often from a heart attack as did old people with a high cholesterol. Supporters of the cholesterol campaign consistently ignore his observation, or consider it as a rare exception, produced by chance among a huge number of studies finding the opposite. But it is not an exception; there are now a large number of findings that contradict the lipid hypothesis...

Video: Is Bad Cholesterol a Secret Scam?
The fraud concerning bad cholesterol is finally exposed... Don't be fooled by the deceptive marketing of Big Pharma!

Another video: Cholesterol corporate killers
An English bloke describing his personal experience on cholesterol lowering drugs...

Video: Cholesterol myth exposed!! They use it to sell drugs that kill you!
The lie that cholesterol causes heart attacks and must be lowered has given rise to one of the hardest myths to die. We *need* cholesterol. It's a vital substance for our metabolism!


posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Friday October 17 2003
updated on Thursday April 21 2011

URL of this article:


Related Articles

Cholesterol Targets Fraudulent - Association for Honesty in Medicine Charges
A few days ago, the New York Times told us that "Federal health officials" had "sharply reduced the desired levels of harmful cholesterol for Americans who are at moderate to high risk for heart disease". But just two days later, we hear from Newsday: Of the nine panelists, six (later data indicate eight) had received grants or consulting or speakers' fees from companies that produce some of the most popular... [read more]
August 04, 2004 - Sepp Hasslberger

Lipitor - Vioxx: Discovering The Statin - Painkiller Chain Reaction
The recent withdrawal of Merck's blockbuster painkiller Vioxx may actually afford us a glimpse of a chain of events that is normally well hidden in research papers, at best selectively disclosed to the medical community. Vioxx and other new-generation painkillers such as Bextra and Celebrex have all come under fire for their tendency to cause an increase of heart attacks. Statin Drugs, such as Lipitor, Zocor, Pravachol, Lesocol and Mevacor... [read more]
December 06, 2004 - Sepp Hasslberger

Lipitor: Side Effects And Natural Remedy
Serious side effects have been reported for Lipitor and other cholesterol-lowering drugs - the so-called statins - prescribed to millions for preventive purposes. The prescription of these drugs is based on the discredited hypothesis that high cholesterol levels cause heart attacks. The cholesterol myth has been one of the most long lived falsehoods around - probably because it has been excellent business, both for large pharma producers as well as... [read more]
March 18, 2004 - Sepp Hasslberger

Lipitor - The Human Cost
Lipitor, a cholesterol lowering drug made by Pfizer and sold to millions of health conscious but ill informed patients, is one of the most profitable drugs the pharmaceutical industry has ever come up with. Sales account for a quarter of Pfizer's $ 32 billion annual sales. Expected to gross more than $ 10 billion this year, Lipitor is poised to become the largest-selling pharmaceutical in history, surpassing Pfizer's other wonder... [read more]
January 31, 2004 - Sepp Hasslberger

and the Misguided War On Cholesterol is an incredible book (an update of an the earlier book LIPITOR, THIEF OF MEMORY, no longer available, now includes all statin side effects not just cognitive, hence a new a title and cover). A must read for anyone who is even remotely interested in how our sickness care, billed as health care, system works. Dr. Graveline, like many, obviously a very conscientious doctor,... [read more]
June 28, 2005 - Chris Gupta

Vitamin C beats statins in cholesterol - heart disease
The solution to high cholesterol and therefore heart attacks - tell us Astra Zeneca and Pfizer, two of the heavyweights in pharmaceutical remedies - is to take their drugs, Crestor and Liptor respectively. According to what Dr. Mercola tells us in one of his recent articles - Crestor and Other Statins: Are They Really Worth the Risk? - there are serious side effects to these drugs, one of them being... [read more]
November 09, 2003 - Sepp Hasslberger




Readers' Comments

Thank you so much for putting this information on the web. My husband started Lipitor 7 weeks ago. Everything in his physical was excellent "except his high cholesterol". After 3 weeks on the drug he started to have symptoms (which unfortunately we didn't recognize as Lipitor right away). He had been golfing, so we attributed his stiff back to that. His daughter had been diagnosed with "stress" so we thought the tightening in his chest was from that. He started having pains down his arms, then his neck began to hurt, then his teeth & jaw began to hurt. He was also experiencing a reaction to cold, which had never bothered him before. We walked 45 minutes a day, 5 days a week prior to Lipitor. During week 7 he couldn't walk for 5 minutes without doubling over in pain (in his back, neck & arms). He started going to a chiropractor during week 7 with minimal results, then thank you God, I looked up "lipitor side effects" and got your web site. We immediately called his Dr. who told him to stop taking the drug. We had follow up blood tests, and everything appears to be ok-no permanent damage, and is feeling better every day (we walked for 35 minutes yesterday) again "thank you God". Thank you so very much for making this info. avail. I am spreading the word to everyone I know. God bless, Kay (please don't give out my e mail address)

Posted by: Kay in California on March 30, 2005 03:19 AM


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These articles are brought to you strictly for educational and informational purposes. Be sure to consult your health practitioner of choice before utilizing any of the information to cure or mitigate disease. Any copyrighted material cited is used strictly in a non commercial way and in accordance with the "fair use" doctrine.



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