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Congress Probes Celebrity Drug Ad Endorsements
Lipitor has been running a series of ads in which a kindly "doctor," Robert Jarvik, inventor of the artificial heart, tells viewers about the benefits of the cholesterol-lowering medication Lipitor. These ads, and their use of celebrity endorsers such as Jarvik, are now being investigated by Congress for potentially misleading viewers.
In the ads, Dr. Jarvik appears to be giving medical advice, but he has never obtained a license to practice or prescribe medicine.
Critics of the drug industry claim that such ads emotionally manipulate viewers and under emphasize the potential side effects of drugs.
The congressional probe focuses on the Lipitor ads, but will likely examine others, such as actress Sally Field's endorsement of the osteoporosis drug Boniva.
Commentary by Dr. Mercola:
Some 30 years ago, hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) was an affliction of middle-aged men with cholesterol over 300 plus other risk factors, such as smoking and obesity. Since then, the massive fear about this non-disease has been created largely by the drug companies.
They have done this while simultaneously manipulating the definition of high cholesterol by controlling the government panels that are responsible for the definitions. This combination has led to absolutely spectacular profits of tens of billions of dollars, as their reward for their effective market manipulation.
By 1984 anyone (male or female) with cholesterol over 200 could receive the dreaded diagnosis and a prescription for pills. Then it was moved down to 180. Today, we�re down to recommended levels of less than 100 and drugs are prescribed to children as young as 10 years old.
This is Absolutely Insane!
I am always amazed by what these companies are able to get away with, but then again, perhaps it's not too surprising when you consider the costly involvement -- both in terms of lives and dollars -- of the U.S. in the Gulf War, which is forcing us into an inflationary recession.
Kind of makes the drug company manipulation resulting in tens of billions of dollars of profit, at the expense of hundreds of thousands of lives by not addressing the real causes, seem relatively insignificant in light of the bigger picture.
To top off the insanity, if you�ve had a heart attack, you get to take cholesterol-lowering medicines even if your cholesterol is already very low -- after all, if you had a heart attack your cholesterol must be "too high" at its current level, according to the prevailing theory.
But does anyone know whether the very low cholesterol levels currently recommended are actually beneficial?
No. In fact, there is no evidence to support their low target numbers, and, what's more, the combination of two or three statin drugs that patients can be prescribed to hit those targets will invariably do far more harm than good in the long run.
Pfizer in Legal Trouble Over Lipitor Again
This isn�t the first time Pfizer is in trouble over their fraudulent claims of what Lipitor can do for you. In 2005 they were sued by healthcare advocates for lying to women and seniors when they claimed Lipitor would reduce their risk of having a heart attack.
The group argued that the drug not only did not work, but that women who took Lipitor ran a 10 percent higher risk of heart attacks than those taking a placebo.
I don�t know the conclusion of that case, but it surely didn�t stop Pfizer from plowing forward with even more absurd claims, which the FDA bought hook line and sinker.
In 2005 Pfizer sold almost $11 billion worth of Lipitor, but after the FDA approved it for reducing stroke and heart attacks risks among diabetics their sales rose to $13 billion in 2006.
This is an unbelievable �oversight� by the FDA, in light of the fact that Lipitor can double the risk of a deadly stroke for diabetics!
Why Statins are Your WORST Option
Statins such as Lipitor are a particularly bad choice for diabetics, but they are a poor treatment even if your only worry is your heart health.
Now, statins do lower LDL (bad) cholesterol very well. The problem is they lower it too well, because cholesterol is still a necessary and natural chemical that your body needs.
Despite cholesterol's infamous reputation, having too little of it in your body is as dangerous, if not more so, than too much. Therefore, the result of taking statin drugs can be numerous dangerous side effects, including:
The last one is rather counter to the whole supposed point of cholesterol-lowering drugs, don't you think?
And there is this additional evidence that it more than doubles your risk of stroke if you are diabetic, in return for no benefits whatsoever -- unless you enjoy anything on this list; these are the possible consequences of taking statins in strong doses or for a lengthy period of time:
What is Your Underlying Problem, and How Can You Treat THAT?
Make no mistake, Lipitor completely fails to treat the underlying problems causing your high levels of cholesterol. Statins are non-specific inhibitors of a number of very important liver enzymes, including the enzyme that causes your liver to make cholesterol when it is stimulated by high insulin levels.
A far more sensible treatment therefore, is to simply shut down the enzyme that makes cholesterol by reducing your insulin and leptin levels, which is the underlying cause of your high cholesterol.
By eliminating sugar and most grains, you won�t cause this important enzyme to be blocked, and you also will not block other vital coenzymes such as CoQ10.
This is also exactly what you should be doing if you are diabetic.
To normalize your cholesterol level naturally, and keep your diabetes under control at the same time, these three primary strategies work well 99 percent of the time if properly implemented:
The omega-3 fats in krill oil or fish oil will influence your HDL cholesterol levels far more safely and effectively than taking a pill -- and for a small fraction of the cost.
I must say I really got a kick out of Robert Jarvik�s public statement where he says in closing:
"I am a medical scientist specializing in advanced technology to treat heart failure who understands that no one in his or her right mind would want an artificial heart if it could be avoided with preventive medicine."
I didn�t say it was a good kick.
To infer that statin drugs are somehow related to preventive medicine is again a grossly misleading statement. There is nothing preventive about these drugs; they do not fix any underlying health issues that might cause problems in the future. Instead they raise your risks of other serious health complications that might cost you your life far sooner than your high cholesterol might have.
Is the Public Being Scammed By Big Pharma In Regard to Their Cholesterol Lowering Drugs?
Lower is better.
For two decades that has been the mantra of heart doctors and their patients: Lower LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke and prolongs life.
But a controversial study of the widely prescribed medicine Vytorin, coupled with negative publicity about other cholesterol drugs, has touched off an intense debate among cardiologists and researchers about the importance of controlling LDL.
Throughout the years what was considered high cholesterol has changed. Twenty-five to thirty years ago if you were a middle-aged male and your cholesterol was greater than 240, and there were other risk factors, you were a candidate for drugs. After the Cholesterol Consensus Conference of 1984, anyone with cholesterol greater than 200 was a candidate. Now if your cholesterol is over 180, you are a candidate for a cholesterol lowering drug.
Cholesterol lowering drugs, commonly known as statins, are the pharmaceutical companies' 'cash cow.' Almost 20 million Americans alone are taking cholesterol medicines. The largest selling drug of them all, the multi-national pharmaceutical companies sell tens of billions of dollars' worth of cholesterol drugs worldwide every year.
Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, California, and a well known cardiologist, said "It isn't just what your LDL level is. You can have low LDL but very active...LDL...What subspecies of LDL are you lowering--the noxious, oxidized types? That's how it's become oversimplified."
Cholesterol lowering drugs have many well known side effects. Some of these are headache, nausea, fatigue, and muscle pain. There is also an increased risk of developing cancer and of having permanent heart damage.
Dr. James M. Wright, professor at the University of British Columbia, and his team have been analyzing years and years of studies and trials. They have found out that someone may possibly benefit from taking statins only if he has already had a heart attack. The drug may help reduce the risk of having another.
An article in a recent issue of Business Week questioned the benefit of Lipitor for its many patients. Lipitor is the world's leading statin with $12 billion in sales! A study of this drug showed that 2 percent of its patients had a heart attack while 3 percent in the placebo (control) group experienced one.
What that Lipitor study boiled down to was that if you place 100 people in a room and give them all Lipitor, two will have a heart attack. And if you put 100 people into another room, and not give them the drug, three will have a heart attack!
Cholesterol lowering drugs are not the first step to fight heart disease. The optimum way to get and remain healthy is through nutrition. NOT nutrition plus pharmaceutical drugs--but nutrition alone. Nutrition should be obtained from whole, natural foods as much as possible. This is food as found in nature. As Hippocrates so wisely stated, "Let food by thy medicine."
The number one killer of Americans today is heart disease. This fact has led medical researchers into seeking the cause, and the remedy for that cause. Sadly, after many studies, mainstream medicine has made up its mind about the cause. High cholesterol has been named the culprit. Of course the pharmaceutical companies' answer in cholesterol lowering drugs.
Now is a good time to state what cholesterol IS NOT. There is no such thing as LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol. There is JUST cholesterol. LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein; HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. 'Lipo' means lipid or fat. Low-density is a combination of fat and protein which is transported by the blood.
The common misunderstanding about cholesterol would mean that there are two cholesterols. Or that there are two types of cholesterol. Neither one is true.
Because of the marketing and educational campaigns of the powerful pharmaceutical industry, cholesterol has been presented as practically evil. Don't underestimate the power of the pharmaceutical industry. They set the standards for and educate the medical profession. Their very, very deep pockets control both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and our healthcare system.
The pharmaceutical industry has invented cholesterol lowering drugs (statins) to control cholesterol levels. But they first invented a disease which they could control by drugs. This disease is called hypercholesterolemia. Hypercholesterolemia is defined as: 'the presence of abnormal amounts of cholesterol in cells of the body and in the plasma of blood; it is associated with risk of atherosclerosis.'
I should mention that there is no physical sign from anyone suffering from hypercholesterolemia, or too much cholesterol in the blood. As a matter of fact, people with high cholesterol feel great.
Throughout the years what is considered high levels of cholesterol has changed. Twenty-five to thirty years ago if you were a middle-aged male and your cholesterol was greater than 240, and there were other risk factors, you were a candidate for drugs. After the Cholesterol Consensus Conference of 1984, anyone with cholesterol greater than 200 was a candidate. Now if your cholesterol is over 180, you are a candidate for a cholesterol lowering drug.
The latest recommendation about cholesterol levels is that they should be as low as possible. This eliminates it being done by exercise, diet, or any lifestyle change. You must take a statin (cholesterol lowering drug.) Not surprisingly, eight of the nine panelists were on the payroll of a pharmaceutical company.
Coincidentally, each revision made more people candidates for the pharmaceutical companies' cholesterol lowering drugs. These drugs are known as statins. The primary job of statins is to inhibit the production of cholesterol in the body.
The total cholesterol readings that you normally get from your doctor are practically worthless. I read of a doctor who knew a 39-year old woman who had a total cholesterol reading of 125 mg/dL. Naturally her doctor thought she was in great health.
However, this woman's HDL, the good cholesterol, was only 15 mg/dL. The HDL should be at least 40 mg/dL for men and 50 mg/dL for women. Obviously this woman's reading was much too low. She later developed coronary heart disease.
Cholesterol lowering drugs only lower LDL. Therefore they could not be of use to this woman who had low HDL.
The total cholesterol reading so common in mainstream or traditional medicine is composed of the combined readings of HDL, LDL (the bad cholesterol), and VLDL (very-low-density lipoprotein.) VLDL is just as bad as LDL because high levels have been linked to heart disease.
The body produces cholesterol. If it didn't, life would not exist. Cholesterol:
A recent study performed by researchers at Texas A&M University showed that cholesterol is important for muscle strength. Study participants were 55 men and women between the ages of 60 and 69 years of age who exercised three days a week for twelve weeks.
The study revealed that the participants who had the highest levels of dietary cholesterol experienced the most strength gains. Lower cholesterol levels reduced muscle strength. According to the researchers, "Our findings show that the restricting of cholesterol--while in the process of exercising--appears to affect building muscle mass in a negative manner."
"...Nowhere is the failing of our medical system more evident than in the wholesale acceptance of cholesterol reduction as a way to prevent disease--have all these doctors forgotten what they learned in biochemistry 101 about the many roles of cholesterol in the human biochemistry?" (Mary G. Enig, PhD. Weston Price Org.)
Low cholesterol levels interfere with the production of bile salt. People on statins can experience difficulties digesting fats. This presents another set of problems. Naturally the pharmaceutical giants such as Pfizer (Lipitor) would like to keep the public ignorant to the possible dangers of cholesterol lowering drugs.
Cholesterol is as important for the body as is water and blood. But cholesterol lowering drugs or statins are the pharmaceutical companies' BIGGEST SELLING DRUGS OF ALL TIME! Currently 16 million Americans take the statin Lipitor. Lipitor, made by the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, is the best-selling statin on the market.
Other cholesterol lowering drugs include Zocor (Merck), Pravachol (Bristol-Myers Squibb), Lescol (Novartis), Meracor (Merck), and Crestor (AstraZeneca.) Not satisfied, the pharmaceutical industry says that an additional 36 million Americans are candidates for statins! A couple of years ago, the sale of statins brought the pharmaceutical industry $12.5 billion!
Statin drugs are very expensive. Their cost ranges anywhere from $900 to $1,400 per year. This breaks down to $75 to $117 per month.
Cholesterol lowering drugs are not without side effects. A 1999 study performed at St. Thomas' Hospital in London found that 36% of their patients taking Lipitor's highest dose reported side effects. At its lowest dose, 10% of the patients reported side effects. The most common side effect is muscle pain and weakness. This is most likely due to coenzyme Q10 depletion. Coenzyme Q10 is important because it supports muscle function.
Lipitor has the following disclaimer in fine print: "has not been shown to prevent heart disease or heart attack!" Remember, it is the pharmaceutical companies' contention that high cholesterol is responsible for heart disease!
In summary, cholesterol is important for overall health. The body produces it. Artificially and arbitrarily lowering cholesterol levels is harmful. Remember, statins deplete the body of coenzyme Q10. This enzyme is necessary in order for muscles to function. The heart is a muscle. The heatr muscle requires large amounts of coenzyme Q10 to work.
Despite protestations to the contrary by the pharmaceutical industry, diet and exercise are beneficial. Note the following nutritional plan:
Myth: LDL (low density lipoprotein), also known as 'bad' cholesterol, is the single biggest factor in the development of heart disease.
Truth: the true determining factor is the ratio of your total cholesterol to your HDL (high density lipoprotein) or 'good' cholesterol. The pharmaceutical companies promote the LDL cholesterol lie because their statin drugs work by lowering LDL cholesterol. Read...
Documents which are posted on the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) website say that studies conducted by Merck and Schering-Plough suggest that the drug Zetia could pose risks for the liver. The studies indicated that Zetia, a non-statin drug, could cause liver damage when used long-term and combined with statins such as Lipitor, Crestor, or Zocor. Merck and Schering-Plough never published the studies.
Merck and Schering-Plough were criticized for not publishing data from another study. This study known as Enhance revealed that patients were dropped when tests discovered that their liver enzymes were elevated. Elevated enzymes are a possible sign of liver damage.
Zetia was approved by the FDA in 2002. However, one FDA reviewer warned that animal studies had shown liver damage when Zetia was combined with statins. Millions of Americans combine statin and non-statin drugs in an effort to control their cholesterol. Some people take Vytorin which combines Zetia with Zocor in a single pill.
Statins may cause muscle damage
A former astronaut's devestating experience with statins