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 statin medications on the market, according to published material from 2001. Those drugs include Pfizer's Lipitor; Bristol-Myers Squibb's Pravachol, Merck's Lovastatin and AstraZeneca's Crestor.
In a message titled "The Cholesterol Fraud", F. Batmanghelidj, M.D., President of the National Association for Honesty in Medicine minces no words:
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The members of the media are being used for perpetuation of the cholesterol fraud against the American people. Recently, a widely publicized doctored report by an NIH panel, most of whose members are now known to have had a direct connection to manufacturers of cholesterol-lowering drugs, unveiled a much stricter guideline for cholesterol levels for people at risk of a stroke or heart attack. Unfortunately, this report, and the publicity given it, set up the people of this country for the use of more totally useless drugs. Science reporters should know that the blood for measuring cholesterol levels is taken from a vein in the arm. But at no time has there been a record of cholesterol ever having blocked a vein in the body! It is not the stickiness of cholesterol that causes the blockage of healthy blood vessel walls! The body uses cholesterol as a kind of bandage to cover abrasions and tears in its arterial walls. It is a life-saver. If you want to learn more about cholesterol read "Bad Cholesterol": A Myth and a Fraud!
Cholesterol is the building block for all the hormones - Pregnenolone, Dehydroepiandrosterone, Progesterone, Desoxycorticosterone, 11-Desoxycortisol, Testosterone, Corticosterone, Cortisol, 18-Hydroxycorticosterone, Aldosterone, Prostaglandins, Prostacylin and many other hormones, brain cell membranes and the insulating material for all the nerves of the body. It is a precursor to vitamin-D, essential for prevention of osteoporosis. Why would you want to lower its levels without knowing the reasons the body has resorted to making more cholesterol?
The pseudo-scientists who recommend more and more drugs for lowering cholesterol levels want to make money at the expense of the ill informed and trusting American public. Unfortunately the people in the media, knowingly or unknowingly, set the innocent public up for their sting. It is not as if the drugs pushed on people to lower their cholesterol are harmless, they do actually kill.
Bayer's statin drug Baycol was taken off the market some years ago - too many died - but many statin drugs continue to be sold and they have the same side effects. Reports about those effects just somehow never seem to make it into the FDA's database for evaluation. No wonder - the drugs rake in billions, and if we are to follow the new cholesterol recommendations we'll get into the zillion range ... but I forget, national health insurance plans and state medical services will be bankrupted long before that.
Pharma manufacturers Merck and Schering-Plough are expected to obtain approval later this month of their new combination product Vytorin, which associates two statins, Zetia and Zocor, which apparently complement each other by attacking cholesterol synthesis in the liver (Zocor) and cholesterol absorption in the intestines (Zetia). According to an article in the Delaware News Journal, Vytorin's expected approval coincides with the release of last week's new guidelines that call for people who have had heart attacks or who are at high risk for heart disease to lower their LDL, or bad cholesterol, to 70 instead of 100, as previously recommended.
Analysts expect the guidelines to help increase the market for cholesterol drugs.
There is room for growth - while an estimated 37 million Americans could benefit from the drugs, only around 14 million take them, according to the cholesterol education program.
Yahoo News published an article, saying that the Consumer groups Center for Science in the Public Interest and Public Citizen blasted the new cholesterol guidelines as being tainted by the influence of major pharmaceuticals that make blockbusters such as Lipitor and Pravachol. Last year, drug makers earned $26 billion worldwide on cholesterol-lowering medicines, the top-selling class of drugs.
ALLIANCE FOR HUMAN RESEARCH PROTECTION (AHRP)
Promoting openness and full disclosure
Scientific journal editors are scrambling about how to react to bad publicity emanating from public disclosure that the scientific reports they have published are likely to be biased because the authors had financial ties to the companies whose drugs / devices they report on favorably - and that information was withheld from readers.
A newly released survey by the Center for Science for the Public Interest (CSPI) looked at articles that appeared during a 3 month period--between December 2003 and February 2004--in four premier scientific journals--the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, Environmental Health Perspectives and Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology -- finding that even in these journals, 8% of authors failed to disclose conflicts of interest.
Among the reports cited by CSPI whose authors failed to disclose their financial conflicts: "Frank D. Kolodgie and Renu Virmani, two scientists at the U.S. Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, failed to disclose their consulting relationships with 20 companies in the heart-disease treatment field in a December article in the New England Journal of Medicine about the formation of plaque in coronary arteries." [Ref. 1]
Inasmuch as biased science affects public health policies and misleads treating physicians who may be unwittingly doing harm to patients, is it not the responsibility of science journals to ensure that they provide accurate, full information to readers?
Here are two modest recommendations: Journal editors should make an effort to publish an update, listing articles whose authors failed to disclose their financial ties to drug companies.
Furthermore, it is essential for journals to retract clinical trial reports that were based on only partial--favorable-data. The results are false and misleading, and may be leading physicians to prescribe medications whose risks outweigh any benefits. [References 2]
The same day that CSPI's survey was reported in the press, the journal, Circulation, published a report announcing new federally endorsed recommendations for the treatment of heart disease--more accurately, recommendations for the increased use of cholesterol lowering drugs. The recommendations were made by a panel convened by the National Cholesterol Education Program on the supposition that they will prevent heart disease. The recommendations will dramatically increase the use of statins to control cholesterol levels.
Statins sales for the current 26 million Americans taking them reach $15 billion. The new recommendations will increase the number of users to 36 million and increase sales to $20.8 billion.
The Wall Street Journal reports today, that the FDA is about to approve Vytorin, a drug, "which packs two cholesterol fighters into one pill. It combines Zetia, a cholesterol-blocker from Schering-Plough Corp., with Merck & Co.'s Zocor, the second-most-prescribed brand in the class of powerful drugs known as statins: "Just as heart patients and their doctors are grappling with updated government guidelines for dramatically lowering cholesterol, a new drug is about to be approved that is sure to deepen the confusion over choosing proper treatment." [Ref 3]
Since the NIH recommendations clearly provide statin drug manufacturers with a mega-billion dollar profit enhancement-and the rationale is controversial -- isn't a bit of skepticism in order?
For starters, why has no one questioned the absence of financial disclosure by the panel members that recommend the new guidelines? Have editors of the journal Circulation not heard about disclosure requirements? [Ref. 4]
Why have reporters failed to ask about possible financial conflicts of interest that may have a bearing on these recommendations? [Ref. 5]
Why has no one in the mainstream media seen fit to inform the public that there are scientists around the world who are skeptical about the intensive statin-cholesterol push, calling it "massive hype" by "Rent-A-Quote" Doctors? [Ref. 6]
Doesn't good science depend upon open debate?
The new recommendations were immediately endorsed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI); the American Heart Association (AHA); and the American College of Cardiology (ACC). But these institutions have a checkered record of endorsing expensive treatments that were no better than cheaper ones, and potentially made matters worse.
For example, the ALLHAT study conducted by NHLBI ("antihypertensive and lipid lowering to prevent heart attack trial") tested the effectiveness of both antihypertensive and lipid treatments. It was published in JAMA (2002) and is cited in the journal, Circulation. The ALLHAT study was critically reviewed in the British Medical Journal (2003), noting that in BOTH arms of this government sponsored study neither expensive treatment endorsed by the AHA and ACC demonstrated better results than cheaper treatments which proved safer. [Ref 7]
Indeed, a cheap diuretic proved safer and more effective against heart attack than either expensive calcium channel blockers and ACE inhibitors or lipid lowering statins which "showed no statistically significant reduction in cardiovascular disease event rates or in deaths."
Of special note is that this study tested statins in patients with higher risk of heart disease -- because such patients had generally shown a greater benefit from statins than do lower risk patients -- yet the outcome was negative.
However, the negative ALLHAT study findings were never publicized and the PR firm handling Pfizer's marketing of the expensive drug, of Cardura, didn't challenge the findings because "The reality is no one promotes a diuretic. So you've got one study that says yes, you should [use a diuretic], then starting the day after, you've got a $10bn [sic] industry. . . and 55 promotional events . . . for an ACE inhibitor..." [Ref 7]
Incredibly, none of the journalists in the major media--including Gina Kolata (NYT), Rob Stein (Wash Post), Ron Winslow (WSJ), among others -- saw fit to even mention the serious risks associated with statins. These include: a potential increase in liver enzymes, muscle aches, weakness, immune system suppression, an increase in cancer risk, and a serious degenerative muscle tissue condition called rhabdomyolysis - and the depletion of Q10, the co-enzyme for the production of cellular energy.
What is Q10? Dr. Peter Langsjoen, an expert cardiologist who has done original research into Q10, says this co-enzyme "is responsible for over 80 per cent of energy and if you knock the level of this essential nutrient down, nothing works as well. Those tissues and organs that use a lot of energy are the first to be affected. The heart, for example, uses a huge amount of juice and if you cut it back with the use of a statin, what you start having first and foremost is lack of energy - you start getting sluggish. So the clinical consequences come about gradually and this weakening - fatigue, getting winded when you're walking up the stairs. It's extremely widespread. If you look for it, you'll see it in just about every single new patient who has been on a statin." [Ref. 8]
Science journalists seem to have very short memories about universally recommended preventive treatments that turned out to increase harm-the hormone replacement therapy debacle seems to have taught them nothing.
The 2003 BMJ report uncovered evidence of Pfizer financial largesse - not surprising, the beneficiaries were the endorsers of Pfizer's high priced cholesterol lowering drugs. Even the NHLBI investigators walked away from their negative study findings, insisting: "we know [statins] work." Is this science or faith? The NHLBI scientists went on to raise questions about their own methodology.
But Dr. Marcia Angell noted that questions about study results should be "hypothesis generating" and cannot be assumed as fact until they are tested. She suggested that what's true of the ALLHAT drug study "may be true of an awful lot of drugs. A lot of newer drugs may not only not be better-they may be worse." The problem arises, Dr. Angell said, because "most drug companies don't want a head to head [study]. And the FDA allows trials to run that are rigged where a drug is tested against placebo or a drug of the same class that is inadequately dosed, or they look at the wrong group of people or the wrong endpoints so their drug looks good." [Ref. 7]
Why, then, have healthcare journalists who reported about statin-sales boosting recommendations failed to raise questions about the risks of statins, or to inform readers how much financial support / grants the manufacturers of statins provide to the three institutions that endorsed the recommendations?
Must we always have to wait for the British to publish reports that raise serious questions about healthcare promotions? Must we wait for the BMJ to investigate unacknowledged financial incentives that may have persuaded those who promote the increased use of statins and other expensive new drugs?
1. THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. Research Conflicts Go Undisclosed Study Says Medical Journals Don't Effectively Monitor Financial Ties of Authors. By ROBERT TOMSHO, July 13, 2004; Page D3
2.British Medical Journal. Efficacy and safety of antidepressants for children and Adolescents. Jon N Jureidini, et al. online free at:
See: The Lancet. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in childhood depression: systematic review of published versus unpublished data. Craig J Whittington, et al. Volume 363, Number 9418, April 24, 2004, online free at:
3. THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. New Option for Fighting Cholesterol FDA Is Expected to Approve Pill That Mixes Two Drugs; What the Lower Target Means By SCOTT HENSLEY , July 14, 2004; Page D1
4. NCEPAT Panel: Scott M. Gundy, James I Cleeman, Noel C Mertz, H. Bryan Brewer, Luther T. Clark, Donald B. Hunninghage, Richard C. Pasternak, Sidney C. Smith, Neil J. Stone,
5. The New York Times. Experts Set a Lower Low for Cholesterol Levels By GINA KOLATA July 13, 2004, A-1.
WASHINGTON POST. Lower Cholesterol Targets Urged By Rob Stein
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. New, Lower Goal Is Set for Cholesterol High-Risk Patients Are Urged to Consider Getting Their LDL Below 70 as Opposed to 100 By RON WINSLOW July 13, 2004; Page D1
6. See articles and reports by members of The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics: "The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics (THINCS) is a steadily growing group of scientists, physicians, other academicians and science writers from various countries."
7. British Medical Journal. Spin doctors doctors soft pedal data on antihypertensives. By Jeanne Lenzer, BMJ 2003;326:170 (18 January)
8. See: Nicholas Regush interview Dr. Peter Langsjoen, a pioneering researcher and cardiologist who has brought considerable attention to a mighty nutrient called "Co-Enzyme Q10" about the hazards of statins. Langsjoen has been involved in some of the key original work showing the link between Q10 depletion and heart disease. His concerns and warnings about statin use come at a time when statin therapy is being very aggressively promoted by the drug industry
Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav Tel: 212-595-8974
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.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
Groups want cholesterol guidelines probe By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS - A consumer group and 35 doctors and scientists asked the federal government Thursday to convene an independent review of the science that led to new guidelines urging wider use of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.
THE CONCEPT IN CARDIOLOGY OF “LIVES SAVED” IS TOTALLY MISLEADING - by Malcolm Kendrick, MD, on RedFlags
Group: Crestor Side Effect Report Delayed
Aug 3, 8:40 PM (ET)
WASHINGTON (AP) - A drug company illegally delayed reporting side effects linked to its anti-cholesterol drug Crestor, a consumer advocate contended Tuesday in urging a Food and Drug Administration investigation.
It's the latest attack on Crestor by the private group Public Citizen, which argues that Crestor is riskier than its competitors and should be banned.
FDA requires drug makers to reveal reports of serious and unexpected side effects within 15 days of learning about them. While those reports don't prove a drug was to blame, FDA evaluates them to determine whether a medicine is riskier than initially thought.
Public Citizen's Dr. Sidney Wolfe charged that AstraZeneca delayed its reports to the FDA by as long as 97 days. The company ultimately reported that 19 Crestor users suffered an often life-threatening muscle-destroying condition - and filed four reports of kidney failure.
The delays "have unquestionably impaired FDA's ability to promptly assess the safety of this uniquely dangerous drug," Wolfe wrote FDA Acting Commissioner Lester Crawford Tuesday.
AstraZeneca insists that Crestor is no more risky than other cholesterol-lowering "statin" drugs, and that it followed FDA rules. The company says it wasn't subject to the 15-day deadline because the side effects were mentioned on the drug's label.
Wolfe countered that Crestor's label implies the muscle-destroying side effect occurs only with an unapproved high dose. The company's own reports, however, implicate far lower doses. The drug's label only mentions kidney failure in passing, Wolfe said.
FDA hasn't formally determined whether AstraZeneca should meet the 15-day deadline, said Dr. Mary Parks, medical officer.
So far, the agency says it sees no signal that Crestor is riskier than other statins, which all can cause rare cases of the muscle side effect.
See also related:
Cholesterol is NOT the Cause of Heart Disease
...an article on Dr Mercola's site for more background on cholesterol
Statins: A risk to your baby?
By Rita Rubin, USA TODAY - Some birth-defects specialists say they are concerned about the possibility of a cholesterol-lowering statin drug going over the counter, a move to be considered today and Friday by a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee.
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.
A Commentary in the Lancet by John Abramson, MD, of Harvard Medical School, author of Overdosed America, and James Wright, MD, University of British Columbia, challenges the validity of the U.S. clinical practice guidelines recommending the expanded use of statins by healthy people. The authors argue that recommendations for the expanded use of statins to stave off cardiovascular disease are NOT supported by the evidence.
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 Wednesday August 4 2004
updated on Thursday April 21 2011
URL of this article:
Bad News About Statin Drugs
The following article form the "Center for Medical Consumers" summaries the real Cholesterol sham that is being imposed on the unsuspecting. I have highlighted the key points to assist all to get the gist of this issue and ramp up on these concerns. Naturally, pharma and their medical cronies will not discuss these openly due their funding dependencies. Chris Gupta ..."Dr. Ravnskov managed to push the envelope further by making... [read more]
November 07, 2003 - Chris Gupta
Statins And Our Immune System
Further to LIPITOR,® THIEF OF MEMORY Dr.Graveline has unraveled the impact of statins on the immune system. The implications of this are huge. This is a must read even though it is a bit technical for some (gets easier to understand as you read). His comments could just as easily be applied to many other drugs. "Tossing the statin sledgehammer into this system is perhaps quite comparable in effect to... [read more]
August 11, 2004 - Chris Gupta
Statins May Scramble Memory
Adding to the long list of side effects of statin drugs, a charge was made by Dr. Golomb that statins may "hamper the brain's performance and trigger other serious problems." She is leading an independent clinical trial to find out what harm statins may be doing. CBS talks of "mind boggling effects" of the statin drugs and relates the story of Jim Matthews, who found himself reeling "struck by cognitive... [read more]
May 25, 2004 - Sepp Hasslberger
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
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
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