Sunday, 24 August 2014

The Beginning of the End for Statins

On 17th February 2013 I posted a note emtitled “Statins. You’re probably better off without them”. 

Earlier this year - in March - I switched on Radio 4 in my car and heard an interview in which someone called Rory Collins was attacking Dr Fiona Godlee, editor of the BMJ (British Medical Journal) for publishing an article critical of statins, which drug we all know is a BIG MONEY-MAKING MACHINE for the pharmaceutical manufacturers (industry estimates $22bn worldwide). Now I don’t hold a candle for Dr Fiona Godlee, or her brother who you may like to know is a GP who believes that “homeopathic remedies are like Smarties” (yes, he was being sarcastic), but at least in the interview Fiona Godlee stuck to her guns and defended the articles, saying some (statins) research understated the risks of side-effects.

Now the plot thickens. Who is Rory Collins? or should I say Prof. Sir Rory Collins? And why did he attack Fiona Godlee? Well, I suspect that the splendid What The Doctors Don’t Tell You magazine, who everyone should be subscribed to, has the answer.

“A research unit that influenced wider statin use in the UK was all the time being funded by drug companies, including £217m from Merck, one of the largest producers of the cholesterol-lowering drug. The Cholesterol Treatment Trialists Collaboration (CTT), based at Oxford University and headed by Sir Rory Collins, has been very influential in shifting UK health policy, which this year started to recommend statin use for all over-60s.

The new guidelines, issued by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), followed the publication of ‘independent’ studies from CTT that maintained that statins had few side effects but many major benefits.  Sir Rory was also highly critical of studies published in the British Medical Journal that claimed the drugs caused side effects in 22 per cent of users.  He demanded that the papers were retracted, which an independent review panel refused to do. 

All along, Sir Rory claimed that he and the CTT were independent, and that any funding came from charitable sources such as the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK.  Even as recently as last March, Sir Rory repeated in an email to the BMJ that the British Heart Foundation was a major funder, and demanded to know who had funded the critical research he wanted withdrawn. But these have been minor funders of CTT and its parent body, the Clinical Trial Service Unit (CTSU).  Over the past 20 years, the two research bodies have received £268m donations, including £217m from Merck, a major manufacturer of statins.

The true picture came to light only after nutritionist and wholefood campaigner Zoe Harcombe uncovered the original documents that outline the CTSU’s funders.”

So it seems the old adage “Follow the Money” is once again very sage advice!

Reflect on the following: Merck’s name crops up again in this post as it did in my last post. As the company that paid a fine of $950m for illegally promoting the drug Vioxx that was later withdrawn when studies found it increased the risk of heart attacks -  - and which reserved another $4.85bn to resolve the claims by affected consumers, it must be wondering how long it will be before the misselling of the benefits of statins is going to be the next crisis point.

The annual NHS spend on statins is around £450m (£769 in 2004) according to the BBC News (22nd March 2014 - ‘Fears over Statins use are ‘misleading’). That is a collossal amount when compared with the pathetic £4m p.a. which is all that the NHS spends on homeopathics. Especially given that prescribing statins, the object of which is to reduce cholesterol, is almost certainly a bad medical practice and results in a significant percentage of patients getting such agonising muscular pains that they quit in disgust, and other longer term problems (see below) that laymen if given the true facts in advance of treatment would probably say that the potential risks far outweigh any benefits. 

As Zoe Harcombe states at 

 Statins stop the body from producing the cholesterol that it is designed to produce. They literally stop one of our fundamental body processes from being able to function. The intelligent view on statins is that in the very limited arena where they appear to have some ‘benefit’ (men over 50 who have already had a heart attack), they ‘work’ by having anti-inflammatory properties and that the fact that they lower cholesterol (by stopping the body from being able to produce this vital substance) is a very unfortunate side effect.”

When someone in our village was put on statins, then developed dementia in short order and subsequently died, I started reading more about the side effects of statins. There is evidence (though you won’t find it highlighted on page 1 of a search using Google - I wonder why!) that in some people statins can cause cancer, diabetes, acute renal failure, dementia, and many other very nasty or even fatal, ‘side effects’ e.g. “The reduction in cardiac events was compensated for by a more than doubling of (the risk of) fatal stroke” -

As the author of the latter remarks, “One must wonder how many patients would accept statin treatment if it were described as a way to die of stroke rather than heart disease.”

When there are so many natural substances with no discernible long term side effects known to nutritionists and natural healthcare therapists which have anti-inflammatory properties, the logic of the NHS continuing to spend $450m or more annually on statins just doesn’t make sense. If you are however not yet willing to take the enormous step of thinking in terms of Natural Healthcare after a lifetime's addiction to the chemistry set approach of Twentieth century medicine, take a look at Aspirin

No comments:

Post a Comment