Half the experts pushing statins for millions more patients have cash links to drug firms

Well what did you expect to happen when the government yielded to pressure from New Media commentators and started to seriously invistigate the way the drug companies work. no kudos to the government however, it has taken them far too long to hear the protests and start looking at the criminal business methods of Big Pharma and the way corporate influence has corrupted medical science and healthcare.

According to The Daily Mail, (cue Two Minutes Hate session from lefties – why do they have to have something to hate?) half of the experts urging the NHS to prescribe statins to millions more patients have financial ties to drugs firms making the pills. Now we know The Daily Mail is prone to hyperbole on certain topics (as are The Guardian and The Independent it must be said) but while the extent of finacial links might be hard to prove, those two left wing newspapers have reported on doctors being “incentivised” by drug companies.

from The Daily Mail:

Last night MPs urged the Health Secretary to launch an investigation into the panel’s links to drugs firms.

Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s shadow health minister, said: ‘Neither big companies nor individuals should stand to personally profit from decisions about our care. Jeremy Hunt should launch an investigation without delay.’

A group of leading doctors yesterday urged the NHS to scrap plans to massively increase the use of statins, warning that not enough was known about the risks.

Six of the 12-strong panel have received thousands of pounds from manufacturers – either by being paid directly to give speeches or ‘advice’, or through funding for research.

This includes the chairman, Dr Anthony Wierzbicki, who has been given funds likely to total tens of thousands of pounds from five drugs firms which make statins or similar cholesterol-lowering pills

The Guardian is not quite up to speed with the corruption angle, but they’ll get there. The paper, known in the past for its support of big Pharma has already reported at length doctors concerns about the medication of healthy people.

Statins for people at low risk of heart disease needs rethink, say top doctors. Nice guidelines will ‘medicalise’ five million healthy people, says letter signed by Royal College of Physicians chief among others.

This is in contrast to other recent reports in The Guardian with headlines dismissing concerns (no links, you can find them yourselves if you want to read):

Benefits of statins outweigh risks, says medicines regulator

BMJ rejects scare stories on statins following plea from Oxford professor

Doctors’ fears over statins may cost lives, says top medical researcher

Statin side-effects minimal, study finds

Quite a change of tone there, I think you will agree. The problem does not affect only this country however. Here’s an extract from The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal – Sentinel:

Doctors with financial ties to drug companies have heavily influenced treatment guidelines recommending the most lucrative drugs in American medicine, an analysis by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and MedPage Today has found.

The guidelines affect how doctors across the country treat patients for everything from diabetes to asthma, chronic pain, depression and high cholesterol.

Issued by leading medical associations and government institutions, treatment guidelines are supposed to be based on rigorous science. But the committees that write them have been dominated by doctors who have worked as paid speakers, consultants or advisers for companies selling the recommended drugs.

Critics say the financial relationships have corrupted medicine, resulting in cases where guidelines make dangerous or ineffective recommendations. Drug companies and some doctors counter that those with conflicts are often top experts in their field.

[ … ]

An analysis of the guideline panels, which involved 293 doctors, found:

Nine guidelines were written by panels where more than 80% of doctors had financial ties to drug companies.
Four panels did not require members to disclose any conflicts of interest. Of the 16 that did, 66% of doctors on the panels had ties to drug companies.
Some guidelines written by conflicted panels recommend drugs that have not been scientifically proven to safely treat conditions, leading to inappropriate or over prescribing. Medical experts have raised such questions about guidelines for anemia, chronic pain and asthma.

The findings offer the latest glimpse into how pharmaceutical companies, with billions in sales at stake, exert a powerful but often unrecognized influence over the practice of American medicine.

Boggart Blog has been on the case of the big Pharma drug pusher for a long time of course:

Statins? Our Welfare Or Corporate Profits, Which side Is Medical Science On?

Statins: The Propaganda Cannot Win Hearts And Minds?

Its just another case where we Boggart Bloggers feel justified in saying “WE TOLD YOU SO”

Doctors, scientists greased by Big Pharma? Told you so

Statins? Our Welfare Or Corporate Profits, Which side Is Medical Science On?

fry up
And don’t forget your cholesterol lowering pill (Source: bingabinga )

I was alerted by a friend to a discussion on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning about the cholesterol lowering drugs, statins. I can’t be arsed with Radio 4 which is entertainment for dead people so only played it within the last hour. Still I have blogged about statins, their very damaging (and often embarrassing) side effects and the enthusiasm of many doctors and scientists for making a daily does of this killer drug manadatory for people over 50 whether their cholsterol needs lowering or not, I thought journalistic integrity demanded I follow up.

The discussion was between two eminent doctors, Oxford professor of epidemiologyan, medical Witchfinder General and avid supporter of Big Pharma’s drive to make us all patients for life, Sir Rory Collins, the other was Fiona Godlee, the editor of the British Medical Journal which has been accused of publishing false information about the ineffectivess of statins for most people and the debilitating side effects for many.

Though the discussion was supposedly on the vitally important question of whether an influential journal was providing reliable information what was interesting was the partisanship of the participants, on the one hand you had Big Pharma’s man shamelessly plugging a policy of forcing drugs down the throats of people who are not ill, knowing full well that those drugs can be harmful or even fatal to those whose cholesterol levels are normal or below normal, on the other a somewhat defensive independent scientist who wants only to get the correct information about just how evil Big Pharma are to the general public.

On statins, scientists divide into one of two camps. One one side we have: “statins are wonder-drugs and should be dished out like Smarties”, (or like paracetomol until people started asking if the epidemic of liver damage ascribed to alcolhol by Big Paharma friendly scientists and senior doctors might be anything to do with the larges doses of a prescription drug known to cause liver damage that is routinely prescribed for minor aches and pains).

The other side says: “statins are powerful medicines with dangerous side-effects and it’s mad to give them to healthy people”.

Sir Rory accused the BMJ of running an article over-estimating the risks of taking statins by 20 times, then of repeating the error and not correcting it quickly enough. This is bad in itself, obviously, but, what’s worse, it also means that some patients might have been frightened off taking their life-saving statin and might have suffered “unnecessary” heart attacks or strokes as a result. As Sir Rory said, “It’s a big error”: not only are statins safe but they’re also very effective at preventing heart attacks and strokes. Now I know scientists hate anecdotal evidence but most of my friends are of an age where, if they have a doctor who is Big Pharma friendly have been pressured into taking statins. They ALL reported very bad side effects. I would rather trust anecdotal evidence from real people talking about real experience that I would the statistcal “evidence” cooked up by a bunch of lying, cheating, rent seeking whores in the pay of Big Pharma. Yes, I don’t trust scientists or anybody else who tells me they only have my best interests at heart when obviously they prioritise corporate profit over individual’s wellbeing.

Given my cynical attitude then it is natural I would do some research of a man who is so concerned for my welfare he wants the government to compel me by law to take drugs tat migh kill me. I want to know why Professor Collins is so keen on statins that he doesn’t even acknowledge the serious adverse effects manufacturers are forced by law to inform every patient about in every single packet they sell.

He’s on the editorial board of lipidsonline.org and here are his credentials and disclosures from that web site.

Rory Collins, MB
BS, is Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of
Oxford, England. He is qualified both as a medical doctor
(MB BS from St. Thomas’ Hospital Medical School) and as a statistician
(with degrees in statistics both from George Washington University in
Washington DC and the University of Oxford). He has coordinated the largest
trials in the world of treatments for heart disease, and has helped direct
many large epidemiological studies in heart disease and in cancer. His
particular interest is in the appropriate use of large-scale randomized
evidence to guide medical practice.

Disclosure: nonpublic support of research – AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, Sanofi. – Courtesy of lipidsonline dot org

Oh, so no conflict of interest there then? Yeah rig, this shit has made a carer out of promoting statins. Funny, the website does not give any information on how many premature deaths are attributed to these dodgy drugs.

Some science enthusiasts like to hold up an ideal of scientific divinity, as if science is somehow omnipotent and infallible. To discover why they think like this we only need follow the money.

There are many ways of lowering cholesterol. You can take soluble plant fibre- psyllium husk, pectin or oat bran. You can take the B vitamin niacin and you can take plant sterols- Beta sitosterol in a complex with other plant sterols for example. All these alternatives are very cheap to make and they are not patented- so you may be sure your doctor will not be offering them as a natural alternative to the toxic products of Big Pharma. Such simple, natural remedies are not on the radar of modern, profit oriented medicine. I imagine a naturopath or other practitioner with an interest in your diet and health would probably recommend them as part of your daily diet.

There is also a school of thought that suggests high cholesterol is not a great health risk except when combined with other factors (I think according to research complex carbohydrates, white sugar, fizzy drinks, anything containing high fructose corn syrup) is the main one).

The simple argument is that it is very unlikely that human beings have spent millions of years’ evolving only to end up with metabolisms that are “unhealthy” in the majority of people.

Statins enthusiasts (or those with financial interests) will claim we don’t have “natural” diets in the modern world, but it has been shown conclusively that changing diet does little to change levels of cholesterol.

And many large-scale studies have shown that lower cholesterol is associated with higher overall levels of morbidity and mortality.

No doubt statins “work” – they do effectively reduce cholesterol levels – but whether that does any good is far from proven. And whether they do harm will take a few decades to show up. By which time Big Phrama will have pocketed the profits and moved on to even more advanced ways of killing us.

Real People Are Dying because Drug Companies Publish Fake Statistics
Statins: The Propaganda Cannot Win Hearts And Minds?
Pesiticides To Blame For Bee Extinction, Not Natural Causes

Polypills: The Arse dribble bandit rides again.

A new plan being mooted by government, the medical professions and those incurable altruists Big Pharma would see a polypill containing aspirin, calcium channel blockers and statins (the arse dribble drug) being given to everybody over 50. By force if necessary.

We’ve been here before:

The Misery Pill, Obesity, Depression and Arse Dribble
The certainty of arse dribble
Calorie Offsetting: Why get fat when you can pay a poor person to do it for you
Do Diet Pills Work? It’s the Arse Dribble, Stupid


The Certainty of Arse Dribble.

It used to be said there are only two things in life we can be certain of, death and taxes. To that can now be added a third because you can be certain Boggart Blog, in our unrelenting determination to get to the bottom of things will return to the subject of arse dribble at least once a month.
Our regular readers may have already observed that arse-dribble usually crops up in these columns when the subject of anti – obesity drugs hits the headlines.
Sure enough, sales figures released by Smith Kline Beecham show that its anti-obesity pill Alli is enjoying a phenomenal run of success. In just five weeks since its launch Alli has clocked up $155million in sales in spite of negative reviews prompted by its most unfortunate side effects, bloating, gas, oily stools and “anal leakage” to use the polite term.
Alli has not been launched in Europe yet as licences are being withheld by the EU pending further investigation of the underwear of users. Also, the name might be a problem considering its similarity to French, Italian and Spanish words for garlic.
Now what puzzles us about the runaway success of Alli in the US market is that so many Americans are concerned enough about obesity to be prepared to tolerate the socially embarrassing consequences of taking the drug but not concerned enough to stop stuffing themselves with pizza, pork scratchings, apple pie with ice cream, fried chicken, ribs, burgers (all on the same plate you understand) pancakes with cream and Maple syrup and other foods consisting mainly of deep fried lard.
What else puzzles us is that the directions for using the drug which is available over the counter, state clearly that it is only effective as an aid to weight loss when used in conjunction with a low fat diet and regular exercise.
WHAT??? For fucks sake Americas, your society invented snake oil salesmen, can you still not recognise them? Save your money, the low fat diet and exercise will do the job, dump the drug and see your social life improve and the need to change your guzzies six times a day disappear.
But wait, let’s not be too hard on Americans because not so long ago the fascist wing of the British Medical Association were floating suggestions that the entire population should be given fat buster drugs as a measure to combat the obesity epidemic. The want to medicate us all, even the anorexics, with arse dribble inducing drugs? I can see that going down like a lead ploppie with the millions of people who work out and eat salad. As well in fact a the proposal to put anti-depressants in the drinking water. But unfortunately, if governments can be persuaded such measures will save them money the plans will be adopted, the conformity police will be unleashed to bully us into believing that not taking our anti depressant arse dribble pills is as anti-social as having a smoke or a few drinks and only the strong minded will be spared the experience of having their intimate moments punctuated by squitty sounds.
The drug is gaining an army (well, a platoon) of fans however, and has even spawned a website http://www.myarsedribble – sorry, http://www.myalli.com Member, in the great American tradition of “sharing the experience” are invited to describe their “TEs” (treatment effects) in graphic detail.
One writes of his horror on changing into casual clothes after work and finding “pizza oil” on the back of his work pants. Another tells how she experienced “the worst case of gas ever” while browsing in a Hallmark Cards shop.
“I had to keep moving from aisle to aisle so nobody would know it was me,” she reports. If we assume these emissions were silent then obviously the writer was not aware of the quantum physics phenomenon that causes fart gas to follow its creator.
Bottom gravy and bad smells are only the outwardly apparent side effects of Alli. The drug works by blocking the effects of the lipase enzymes that work in the digestive system, breaking down fats. Thus much of the fat we eat passes straight through, and with it those essential nutrients that are dissolved in fat. These include vitamins A, D, E, K and beta carotene.
And finally, to wrap up our case for the utter uselessness of Alli, the active substance of the drug, orlistat is only really effective if taken in 120milligram doses, three times a day. The tablets sold by SKB provide just 60 milligrams three times a day.
So users get nothing but squits for their money.
We have to admit, this time Big Pharma have excelled themselves. They have created a drug that has no benefits (except to corporate profits) many negative effects, the worst of which is having to wear adult nappies, lacks even a placebo – effect benefit and even if it did work would only add its unpleasant side effects to what could be achieved by natural means.
A resounding triumph for medical science all told.

New NHS statins guidance ‘risks harming patients’
Statins? Our Welfare Or Corporate Profits, Which side Is Medical Science On?
Statins: The Propaganda Cannot Win Hearts And Minds?
Heart Attack Pill: Medicate Everybody And Abolish Death
Heart disease? Saturated Fat Is Not The Problem