If you are not taking a statin drug at the time of this writing, there is a good chance you will be prescribed one in the near future, according to the new guidelines on coronary vascular disease (CVD). The biggest change is that for the first time ever they are recommending satin drugs for healthy people if they have certain risk factors. This is a major paradigm shift, using statins, drugs that have long lists of known side effects (including the depletion of Coenzyme Q10, which is by itself a known cause of Heart Failure) on healthy patients in an attempt to prevent future events. These new guidelines will generate millions if not billions of dollars for the drugs companies that make these drugs.
So the obvious question is, are there any major conflicts of interest in the development of these guidelines? A little research quickly provides the answer; YES! The majority of the information comes from a recent Cochrane analysis, which stated significant benefits of statin drug use with no risk of side effects. Sounds great right? What is concerning is that two previous reviews of the research on Statin drugs were performed in 2009 and 2011. In each of these reviews, Statin drugs were not found to be beneficial. Interestingly, many of the same authors that were included in the 2009 and 2011 reviews were also included in the most recent review. How could the results of this recent review be so different from the two others? Dr. Rita Redberg of the University of California, San Francisco, found the likely culprit. The most current review left OUT a number of MAJOR trials that were NOT supportive of the use of Statin drugs.
Why would the authors of this review leave out large trials that would not be supportive of the use of Statin drugs? Could financial conflicts of interest provide answers? A quick search on the website dollar for docs revealed that the vice chair for these new cholesterol guidelines and a coauthor of the guidelines for assessing CV risk, was paid $78,685 by the pharmaceutical company Merck, producer of statin drugs and other cholesterol lowering medications.
Unfortunately this is not an isolated case of new guidelines that are laden with conflicts of interest. This is also not the first time that Statin drugs were the focus of such controversy. In 2001, the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) released guidelines that significantly lowered the level for blood cholesterol that is considered normal. The result of these guidelines led to millions of patients being prescribed Statin medications in order to decrease the incidence of heart disease. Did this approach work? Here we are Twelve years later, the Centers for Disease Control reports that heart disease is STILL the number ONE KILLER of Men and Women. And yet, according to these latest guidelines more Statin drugs are needed! So, where conflicts of interest at play with the NECP guidelines? Once again, the unfortunate answer is, YES! Dr. David Diamond Ph.D. has done extensive research that revealed each and every contributing member to the NCEP was being paid by pharmaceutical companies that manufactured cholesterol lowering medications. To access a full video presentation of Dr. Diamond’s findings go to the following link; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vr-c8GeT34&feature=share.
The take home message is simple. Not only do you deserve to know all potential risks and benefits to any medication that is recommended to you, your health care provider is Legally Obligated to discuss in detail all of these measures, that is what Informed Consent consists of. The process of Informed consent is designed so that the patient can have adequate knowledge to make the best informed decision about what medications or procedure they to have!