Despite mounting evidence of serious risks following long-term use of statins, these low-cost and high-profit drugs are being prescribed relentlessly without informed consent of patients
Rob Verkerk PhD, founder, executive and scientific director, ANH-Intl; scientific director, ANH-USA
The statin bubble has burst….supposedly
If you hadn’t noticed that the statin bubble had burst, you were probably suffering a statin-induced fuzzy head and hadn’t managed to stay up with breaking news.
Over the past months a flurry of long-term studies have been emerging, driving the last nails into the coffin of one of the most profitable drug classes the pharmaceutical industry has yet seen. Or so it might seem.
Statins are prescribed for the purpose of reducing cholesterol levels which have long been viewed as a major risk factor for heart disease.
How many people know the long-term risks (or benefits, or otherwise) of statins before they take them?
Pharma won’t give up on statins (and their profits)
Big Pharma, and its servants in health and regulatory authorities, don’t give up so easily. Even the US FDA, while being forced to admit and communicate more evidence of harm, still argues that purported benefits in reducing heart disease outweigh risks, be these kidney, brain, muscle or eye damage, or increased type 2 diabetes incidence. More than that, seemingly outlandish new claims for other ‘spin-off’ benefits keep emerging, helping offset the bad publicity about side effects.
British private health insurer BUPA cites common side-effects of statins as stomach problems – pain, diarrhoea, feeling sick and vomiting, jaundice, headache, sleep disturbances, dizziness, depression and extreme tiredness
There is no compelling evidence to show any benefits of statins for the very elderly, even though these are among the group with highest rate of statin medication
The 2011 Cochrane Review of the evidence from 14 randomised clinical trials (RCTs) showed that only high risk groups might gain some benefit in quality of life, while “Caution should be taken in prescribing statins for primary prevention among people at low cardiovascular risk”.
Cochrane changed its conclusion with its review in 2014, recommending statins to all those with raised cholesterol, irrespective of risk. This revised conclusion was largely as the result of the influence of one trial headed by leading British statin advocate, Dr Rory Collins that was likely tainted by his Pharma interests. Additionally, Dr Collins has also tried his best, fortunately unsuccessfully, to bury the views of his scientific critics. The Cochrane review also discounts the importance of side effects—contrary to a gamut of evidence and clinical reporting over years, as well as the requirement to warn patients of such risks on product information leaflets.
For those who have a low risk of suffering a heart attack, leading British cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra argues that a daily apple will do more to protect the heart than using statins.
Find out how you can reduce your heart attack risk without using statins by leading metabolic cardiologist, Dr Mark Houston, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine; Director of the Hypertension Institute and Vascular Biology; and Medical Director of the Division of Human Nutrition at Saint Thomas Medical Group, Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee.