Health Supreme by Sepp Hasslberger

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

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December 20, 2007

Whistleblower Sues Pfizer Over Deceptive Lipitor Marketing

A former Pfizer employee has sued the pharmaceutical giant alleging that the sales of Lipitor, a cholesterol lowering drug, were hugely inflated by a deceptive 'educational' campaign that induced medical doctors to prescribe the drug to patients who didn't need it.

According to the Wall Street Journal, which reports on the legal case, Jesse Polansky claims that the educational campaign was a key part of a marketing strategy that "led thousands of physicians to prescribe Lipitor for millions of patients who did not need medication" and could be harmed by overly aggressive treatment.

The whistleblower's lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in February 2004 but was sealed to allow government prosecutors time to consider whether they wanted to join in. The government has declined to intervene which led to the unsealing of the case earlier this year.


Whistleblower sues Pfizer - Image: Pharmalot.

Pfizer says "we believe the case has no merit" and points to the government's refusal to join the action. Polansky claims he was fired by Pfizer after complaining about improper marketing practices. Dr. Polansky now works as the senior medical officer for Medicare in a unit that investigates fraud and abuse at the government health insurer.

Lipitor is a super blockbuster drug - it generated more than 13 billion dollars in sales for Pfizer last year. But it also is a very controversial drug. Lower cholesterol counts are not equal to prevented heart attacks, a fact that is never mentioned in the 'educational' campaigns Pfizer is running to increase the sales of its drugs. The Wall Street Journal puts it like this:

Pharmaceutical companies are prohibited from marketing drugs for indications other than what the FDA approves them for, although doctors aren't prohibited from prescribing them for unapproved uses. Independent educational programs can discuss off-label uses that aren't FDA approved. But Dr. Polansky's lawsuit charges that the Pfizer-funded programs weren't independent.

The Lipitor educational programs were run by companies paid by Pfizer through "unrestricted educational grants," the lawsuit says. It alleges that the educational programs were integrated into the marketing plan for the drug, citing an internal Pfizer marketing plan for Lipitor with a page titled "Medical Education Platform Supports the New Positioning."

- - -

Cholesterol lowering drugs: side effects

Another very controversial side of the drug are its severe 'side effects'. Statins or cholesterol lowering drugs, of which Lipitor is the most prominent example, are interfering with the human liver's ability to manufacture cholesterol which, far from being the bugbear we are made to believe it is, has hugely important functions in our bodies' metabolism.

Dr. Duane Graveline says in his Critical Review of Statins:

There is no doubt that the present notoriety of cholesterol has all but obscured its physiological importance and necessity in our bodies. Cholesterol is not only the most common organic molecule in our brain, it is also distributed intimately throughout our entire body.

It is an essential constituent of the membrane surrounding every cell. The presence of cholesterol in this fatty double layer of the cell wall adjusts the fluid level and rigidity of this membrane to the proper value for both cell stability and function.

Additionally, cholesterol is metabolized into other essential body steroids known as the steroid hormones and is therefore the sole source for the formation of the very powerful chemicals in our body that determine our sexuality, control the reproductive process and make possible our very existence.

Since cholesterol is a very important molecule for proper brain function, it seems no wonder that lowering cholesterol through drugs like Lipitor has been associated with neurological side effects such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease.

The fact that cholesterol is an essential component of cell membranes may explain why many people taking Lipitor and other cholesterol lowering drugs suffer sometimes excruciating muscle pains that, more often than not, prescribing physicians have not been told about and thus simply discount when the patient complains about them.

The reality of these painful effects is documented by the comments readers posted on two earlier articles on this site: Lipitor - The Human Cost and Lipitor: Side Effects and Natural Remedy. The stories of these numerous readers collected as spontaneous comments to these two articles should give anyone pause to think before taking cholesterol lowering drugs, but more than that - they should induce the FDA and other health authorities to take a more critical approach to the widely accepted "everybody knows" that cutting cholesterol levels is a desirable preventive health intervention and that everyone with even slightly elevated cholesterol should be put on statin drugs.


posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Thursday December 20 2007

URL of this article:


Related Articles

Statin Drugs Cause Amnesia, Behavioral Disorders and Cognitive Loss
Duane Graveline, a former astronaut and medical doctor is one of the few 'lone voices' warning of the side effects of statin drug use. His website probably has more information on statin drug side effects than any other place on the internet. Duane 'Spacedoc' Graveline, author of Statin Drugs Side Effects: the misguided war on cholesterol Doc Graveline has now released some more of his research into the side... [read more]
August 14, 2007 - Sepp Hasslberger

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.... [read more]
October 17, 2003 - Sepp Hasslberger

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

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, Zocor, Pravachol: Cholesterol Lowering Drugs Cause Cancer?
Lipitor has been known to cause very painful and potentially fatal muscle wasting also known as rhabdomyolysis as detailed and confirmed by numerous personal comments on two previous articles on this site: Lipitor - The Human Cost and Lipitor: Side Effects And Natural Remedy. This side effect is apparently so widespread that the use of painkillers has skyrocketed in the wake of increased statin drug use. Recently Crestor, another similar... [read more]
January 14, 2005 - Sepp Hasslberger

Cholesterol Scam Exposed - Throw Away Your Statins!
Readers of this site have known it for some years, but the news is coming out more and more clearly: Cholesterol is a scam perpetrated by pharmaceutical interests at the cost of the health of millions of believers in modern medicine. Not only do cholesterol lowering medications - the so-called statin drugs - have appalling side effects, they are practically useless, while having been the greatest money makers for pharmaceutical... [read more]
January 24, 2007 - Sepp Hasslberger




Readers' Comments

thank you for all your info on the side effects of Lipitor. Apart from the fibro myalgia & insomnia I find now i am dealing with memory problems which i put down to the onset of menapause I am very interested in finding out more about fish oil which type eg. higher in EPA or DHA Through my research i have found that Lipitor & Noten induce Lactic Acid I am finding i am looking for more & more supplements to help countract the side effects I nave an hereditory heart condition cholestral never been over 4.5 presently 3.1 healthy range in body weight good BMI exercise daily Any feedback would be much appreciated I am not on top of this situation Regards & thanks Mary-Ann

Posted by: Mary-Ann Barnes on February 8, 2008 08:40 PM



to see more information on the side effects of Lipitor, check out also these two articles,

Lipitor - The Human Cost

Lipitor: Side Effects And Natural Remedy

especially the stories many readers added in their comments. Lipitor and similar drugs actually have a muscle damaging side effect (not lactic acid but something more serious) that comes through in many of these personal stories.

For neurological side effects see

Lipitor Neurological Side Effect: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Alzheimer's

Seeing the side effects, and the recent studies that show that lowering cholesterol doesn't actually prevent heart attacks (see What's cholesterol got to do with it?) it is a mystery why any doctor would continue to proscribe these drugs or, for that matter, why anyone would continue to take them.

Posted by: Sepp on February 9, 2008 10:49 AM


Sir, I can't thank you enough for all the information you have posted concerning Lipitor. Indeed I am experiencing memory problems and could not understand the reason. My concern is that it may be definite. Beside the memory problems Lipitor gives me Candida. When I stop the Lipitor and take various supplements to eliminate the candida, it disappears. However my doctor says I should take Lipitor and only by being one month on Lipitor 40mg the Candida returns. I have called this morning my doctor and told him I refuse to be on Lipitor ever again and will look for other alternatives.

G-D bless you for your honesty and integrity. Deborah

Posted by: Deborah Newmark on April 10, 2008 10:19 AM


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