FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Born With a Statin Deficiency?

by MARTHA ROSENBERG

When Dr. Paul Ridker of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA presented the results of the AstraZeneca-funded JUPITER study at the American Heart Association conference in November–JUPITER standing for The Justification for the Use of Statins in Primary Prevention–there were a lot more stenographers than skeptics in the press corps.

How could a drug company-funded study designed to show why the general population should use its drug (Crestor, or rosuvastatin) be objective? Or even newsworthy?

Especially when its lead author is co-inventor on the related patent?

And its authors list 131 financial ties to drug companies? Hello?

But the press didn’t let overt conflicts of interest–COIs as pharma calls them because they’re so common–ruin the story.

“AstraZeneca’s Crestor Cuts Death, Heart Attack,” exalted Reuters remembering the PR dictim of getting Name and Company in the headline. “Crestor Study Seen Changing Preventive Treatment!”

“Wider Cholesterol Drug Use May Save Lives,” trumpeted other headlines.

“Statins For Everyone!”

“Crestor In The Water?”

Was this the same Crestor which was vilified in a Lancet editorial three months after its 2003 US approval as “inadequately investigated”?

Named as one of the top five most dangerous drugs by the FDA’s Dr. David “Vioxx” Graham on Capitol Hill in 2004?

Petitioned for recall by the Washington D.C. based Public Citizen?

Found worthless against chronic heart failure just one month earlier in Lancet?

In the feeder frenzy to cover the self-engineered drug breakthrough, where was press mention of another American Heart Association finding about Crestor in its journal Circulation in 2005? [111:3051-3057]

That Crestor “was significantly more likely to be associated with the composite end point of rhabdomyolysis, proteinuria, nephropathy, or renal failure,” than other drugs?

Where was mention of the FDA warning about rhabdomyolysis–the muscle disease that did Bayer’s Baycol in–that was added to Crestor in 2005 after a patient death–along with warnings to the physician about Crestor use in Asian patients, people with severe kidney disease and patients taking cyclosporine?

Oops.

But while the gee whiz press focused on the JUPITER study’s startling results–the Crestor group had a 54 percent reduction in heart attacks, 48 percent reduction in strokes and 20 percent reduction in death compared to placebo–especially in light of the fact that the study group was free of heart disease and high cholesterol, most doctors wouldn’t drink the AstraZeneca Kool-Aid.

The study’s 17,802 enrollees may have had normal levels of the bad LDL cholesterol but some were “walking vasculopaths,” with abnormal C-reactive protein levels [CRP] which indicate inflammation in the body said Dr. Bernadine Healy, health editor for U.S. News & World Report.

“As a result, the JUPITER trial was riddled with obesity, high blood pressure, prediabetes, and genes predisposing to heart disease,” said Healy. “Almost 3,000 enrollees were smokers, a big time CRP elevator, and only 10 percent took aspirin, an inexpensive preventive medicine that protects against both heart disease and stroke. (Aspirin also lowers CRP.) Other study patients were really healthy, free of any known risk factors and yet had elevated CRP for no obvious reason.”

While the press bought AstraZeneca’s contrivance that the JUPITER study was so conclusive it was ended early, many of the 470 doctors who posted online comments after the study in the New England Journal of Medicine (Nov. 20, 2008) said you ended the trial WHEN?

“It is well established that RCTs [randomized controlled trials] stopped early overestimate benefits significantly,” wrote a physician from Rochester, MN.

“It is shocking that this trial was terminated 50% through, based on a small absolute benefit, with real questions about long term risk,” said a poster from the Public Health Law Program, LSU Law Center.

“There is no justification for stopping the follow-up, even if the triallists felt it was unethical to recruit new patients,” wrote a physician from Yorkshire, UK. “Congratulations to AstraZeneca for selling the results to the uncritical lay media. I feel sorry for all the family doctors who will be pestered by patients for some time to come.”

Doctors also balked at the study’s ipso facto preference for a pill over lifestyle changes like diet and exercise–including the well known Dr. Dean Ornish of Preventive Medicine Research Institute who noted the nation spent $20 billion on cholesterol-lowering drugs last year.

While cardiologists were soft on the study–except one who assailed the Western “pandemic food addiction and the mirage of immortality in a bottle of pills”–many other doctors detected disease mongering behind JUPITER of the sort that sold HRT and Vioxx to anyone over 50.

Even a medical student wasn’t impressed.

“I don’t think risking the patient’s life by giving him statins is a correct procedure. I would be giving him/her benefits for a disease which has not been diagnosed yet and increasing the odds of developing another disease (Diabetes),” she wrote.

MARTHA ROSENBERG is staff cartoonist on the Evanston Roundtable. She can be reached at mrosenberg@evmark.org

 

 

 

 

 

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail