The Boho Dance
Bronx Voices

Take this drug! Lower Your risk of death!

Feeling_my_age_moi"A large new study suggests that millions more people could benefit from taking the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins, even if they have low cholesterol, because the drugs can significantly lower their risk of heart attacks, strokes and death," says today's New York Times. Please note that the study was carried out on "nearly 18,000 people worldwide, [and] tested statin treatment in men 50 and older and in women 60 and older who did not have high cholesterol or histories of heart disease."

Now, this sounds like a big study, but keep in mind that there are approximately 400 million people in this age range world wide, so this sample is less than one-half of one percent of that target population. Statistically, this is a very small sample and the time period over which it was carried out, two years, is pretty short. But the fundamental flaw in this study is the last bit of that first sentence. Nothing lowers your risk of death. Nothing. "Scientists said the research could provide clues on how to address a long-confounding statistic: that half of heart attacks and strokes occur in people without high cholesterol." So they're puzzled? The answer is simple: we are mortal. Everything dies. If heart attacks don't kill us, something else will.

Additionally, statins have some ugly side effects, including muscle pain (imagine constantly feeling like you've just done a day of ditch digging) in 10-15% of patients, diarrhea, and liver problems. So why would you want to take something you don't really need to lower your cholesterol, when this merely leaves you open to death anyway, by some other cause? They're not cheap drugs, and their cost-effectiveness for low-risk people has already been called into question.

Call me cynical, but this sounds to me like a study to justify selling these very expensive drugs to a population that does not need them, since profits for Big Pharma are tanking like everything else. I can almost hear some genius in the board room saying, "lets find some way to expand the market for these." Voila! A study that proves they benefit people that don't really need them. In this case, the drug tested was Crestor made by AstraZeneca, whose profits defied the market and rose 29% in the last quarter, though the demand for its drugs in the U.S. was flat. Sales boost anyone?


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I left some comments at

People my age and over with several risk factors may benefit. Younger folks should generally run the other way screaming.

The comments to this entry are closed.