Big Pharma has more tricks in its repertoire than a hat full of monkeys. Here’s the latest. With the patents running out on Lipitor and the other statins, profits can only be maintained if more and more people take these drugs but how do you do that? This leads to new disease invention, or ‘disease mongering’ a cute term to which I was introduced by Prof David Handelsman at the University of Sydney. Only here he was referring to a real clinical entity, that of men suffering from sub-optimal testosterone levels, which he thinks is a mostly non-existent condition. (Ask the men with this problem what they think about that position).
Disease mongering certainly applies to the medical profession’s invention of cholesterol as a disease. Experts, eminences actually, aided and abetted by the food and drug companies concocted a fictitious disorder – high cholesterol- and profited greatly from sucker punching the public in the mid-rift with terrifying scenarios of what would happen if a person didn’t take these life-saving drugs. Well, it turns out that no lives have been saved unless you mean that one person in a couple of hundred taking these drugs lived an extra few months: but too bad for the other hundred who got no benefit at all, just the side-effects. The greatest beneficiaries were the researchers and eminences who traveled all around the world speaking at conferences and being invited to all sorts of industry sponsored events: and, of course, the drug companies who made obscene profits.
Now, as the time for the patents started running out Pharma had to figure out how to maximize their income. First it was to keep reducing the target level of cholesterol. Three decades ago 7 nmol/L was normal but it has been reduced over time and without any fanfare, it was dropped to 4 nmol/L in Australia last year. This makes for lots of increased doctor visits, more statins being prescribed and heaps more blood tests to make sure that patients achieve a ‘safe’ cholesterol level. Very considerate.
Meanwhile, realizing that the gravy train might be coming to an end, the Pharmas have now concocted studies that are shamefully unscientific (as were most of the cholesterol/heart disease studies) and these new studies show that statins lower the risk of cancer by up to 55%. Clearly this is nonsense because, IF that were even remotely true, the rate of cancer would have declined over the last 30 years as more and more people were taking statins. The opposite is true: cancer rates are skyrocketing, much of it due to obesity. (see my earlier blog on that topic)
What these charlatans did not take into account was that people with the highest cholesterol levels have the lowest rates of cancer: and guess who would have been on a statin drug? Yes! Yes! The people with the highest levels of cholesterol AND who had the lowest risk of cancer would have been on a statin, so it took just a little deceptive reasoning to claim that it was the statins doing it. It’s so clever, you feel like applauding the drug companies and researchers for their ingenuity but sadly, if these data are acted upon by medical boards and registration bodies who oversee medical practitioners and medical practice guidelines, we might be facing a situation where all people over the age of, say 20, are told they need to take a statin and doctors will be reprimanded for not prescribing them. This is a horrifying scenario. But, it certainly solves the patent issue and declining profits, while ensuring that the patient base is vastly expanded, from people with elevated cholesterol to ALL the population over some arbitrary age.
To make matters worse, a new class of cholesterol lowering drugs, more specifically, LDL-cholesterol lowering drugs, are on the verge of approval by the FDA. They are called PCSK9 inhibitors and they have to be injected every 2 to 4 weeks. Forever. They will cost a fortune, achieve nothing medically except side effects and so the heart disease fiasco will continue. While the prevention of cardiovascular disease lies in population wide adoption of a Paleo low carb, high fat diet, a simple answer -and a cheap one- it is hard to understand why those people in office who are meant to be ensuring we remain healthy and safe have not promoted this.
☛☛☛ Here is the definition of a racket from Wikipedia: A racket is a service that is fraudulently offered to solve a problem, such as for a problem that does not actually exist, that will not be put into effect, or that would not otherwise exist if the racket did not exist. Conducting a racket is racketeering.
You have to ask some very basic questions about who, in the end, is profiting most from promoting these expensive and dangerous therapies, along with the lies.
You know who they are and they are not your friends.