By Paul Fassa
Two recent articles published in the UK mainstream hard copy and online newspaper Express revealed there’s something wrong with cholesterol-lowering statin drug prescription policies, quoting several doctors who claim statins cause more harm than benefit.
Dr. Rita Redberg, a cardiologist professor at the San Francisco Medical Center, states:
“Unfortunately, until all data is available and discussed with patients, millions of people taking these [statin]drugs will continue to have far greater chance of harm than benefit.” (Source.)
Dr. Rita Redberg’s name might be familiar to our readers, because she appeared in an Australian two-part TV news documentary that has often been featured in several Health Impact News articles. Both parts were connected thematically and produced by Dr. Maryanne Demasi, Ph.D.
And it was Dr. Demasi’s British Medical Journal (BMJ) article and study review that the Express article was reporting rather favorably with quotes from other doctors supporting her findings. The article’s focus was on the controversy it had ignited regarding the widespread use of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.
Dr. Demasi’s Determination to Expose the Harsh Realities of Statin Drugs Was Underestimated
A few years back around 2013/14, Dr. Demasi produced two Catalyst science show productions on the ABC Australia TV network. It’s as mainstream as it gets down under.
Part one, “Dietary Villains,” of the two-part series, “The Heart of the Matter,” exposes the big fat lie of heart disease, the “lipid theory of heart disease,” which has become the foundation of producing processed foods to avoid natural, healthy, edible fats. (Sources)
As the cholesterol count paranoia peaked, statin drugs were created and became huge blockbuster drugs, creating billions for Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies.
Dr. Demasi’s second report covered the successful statin hoax, based on the false premise of heart attacks and cardiovascular disease – cholesterol. The doctors and others that Demasi interviewed focused on the fact that yes, statins reduce cholesterol, but that’s bad for you! The reasons were expertly and clearly presented.
Her investigative reporting also revealed that statins not only reduced cholesterol, an important building block of the brain and central nervous system and hormone production, it also blocked the production of a heart nutrient, CoQ10. CoQ10 is also vital for mitochondria, the energy packages inside each of our cells.
The successful intent of reducing cholesterol is unnecessary as the lipid theory of heart disease has been proven false, it is still clung to by most mainstream practitioners and unfortunately too many holistic doctors as well. Inadvertently, impeding CoQ10 creates debilitating, even crippling, side effects.
If you’re doubtful about this information or not fully informed, Health Impact News has several articles and study references, you can educate yourself here.
The first show of “The Heart of the Matter” aired on Australian national TV. Immediately, the medical establishment demanded that ABC not air the second show, the one that discusses the downfalls of statin drugs. One even commented there would be blood on their hands while another medical bureaucratic claimed many would die after viewing the second segment and quitting their statin regimens.
The second show did also air, but the medical industry pressure persisted and ABC agreed to never air either documentary again and took both episodes off their website. But Health Impact News has them and you can view both from this site – episode one here and episode two here.
Both parts of Demasi’s two-part investigative report were high-quality productions and made their case very well. After such a backlash and removal of a fine production, many would have thrown in the towel thinking the powers that be are too big.
But Dr. Demasi returned with her BMJ article published in late 2017, titled “Statin wars: have we been misled about the evidence? A narrative review,” which was reported in the UK Express with some doctors expressing their support of Dr. Demasi questioning the claims of statin drugs and their research reports from the drug companies who make them.
Some Highlights of Dr. Demasi’s Publicized Narrative Review
Dr. Demasi reports how an independent study showed people who took a daily statin for five years only increased their life expectancy by 4.1 days after a serious negative heart health event or 3.2 days with primary prevention prescriptions for healthy individuals. (Source)
Her review mentions the actual drug company practices of omitting negative trial study reports from final complete reports to the FDA. Then there is the tendency to omit trial subjects who were “non-compliant” while not listing the side effects that may have caused them to quit. In her article, Dr. Demasi asks,
“If the data are hidden, can we even have a debate?”
One major non-industry-funded study on statins has been done showing that the statin drug pravastatin had no significant benefit in reducing either all-cause mortality or coronary heart disease when prescribed as a preventative, she wrote.
There remained the question of how much harm those statins caused. So Dr. Demasi decided it would benefit her investigation to gather raw data from all the statin study materials for a better understanding of actual efficacy and safety.
In England, an Oxford University group had established the Cholesterol Treatment Trialists’ (CTT) Collaboration, which handled a good deal of statin clinical trial reports from statin producing pharmaceutical companies.
The CTT Collaboration also cheerled for the statin industry by submitting dogmatic editorials to journals promoting greater distribution of statin drugs for lower ages without high cholesterol levels.
When Demasi queried the CTT Collaboration in an effort to obtain all their study reports to obtain the raw data disclosing what was filtered out, she got this official response:
“The CTT secretariat has an agreement with the principal investigators of the trials and, in those instances where trial data were provided directly by the drug manufacturers, with the companies themselves, that individual trial data will not be released to third parties. Such an agreement was necessary in order that analyses of the totality of the available trial data could be conducted by the CTT Collaboration: without such an agreement the trial data could not have been brought together for systematic analysis.”
Other interesting events disclosed in Dr. Demasi’s review is how two statin guideline committees, one in the UK, and the other in the USA, decided to expand statin prescriptions for larger population segments by lowering the age levels and cholesterol count levels and reducing symptoms required for recommending statin drugs.
Both committees were stacked with doctors having financial interests with the very pharmaceutical companies that make and market statin drugs. The 2004 US National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) committee’s membership had eight of its nine members with financial ties to pharmaceutical companies who marketed statin drugs.
Shortly after the NCEP committee’s guideline release, the UK’s National Institute for Health Care Excellence (NICE) created statin prescription guidelines that reduced the risk profile for statin drug prescriptions by half, greatly expanding statin use in the UK. Eight of the 12 committee members were financially involved with statin producers.
Dr. Demasi’s review also included how editorial efforts to nullify doubts about statin efficacy and safety included claims that negative media reporting on statins would be the death knell for many who should be taking statins, and most reported side effects were nocebo events.
A nocebo effect occurs when known negative expectations from treatments cause the patient to experience a more negative effect than if it were unknown.
All this and more led Dr. Demasi to conclude:
“Dissenting views about statins have been publicly derided and effectively silenced by proponents who are often funded by statin manufacturers.”
Among medical experts interviewed by the Express who supported Dr. Demasi’s views was the Queen’s former personal physician, Sir Richard Thompson, who added his perspective:
“This formidable review adds to the voices that are questioning the cholesterol/statin/cardiovascular disease hypothesis and are criticizing the presentation of many of the trial data. Physicians should emphasize the benefits on cardiovascular disease of physical activity and a Mediterranean diet, both of which are effective and safer and cheaper than drugs.” (Source)
Dr. Demasi’s BMJ article can be viewed here.
Another Dissenting Statin Report Publicized in UK Mainstream Press
The same newspaper, The Express, offered more coverage of dissenting doctors in a different publication. This exposure was covered in an Express article, “STATINS WARNING: Heart medicine pills ‘do more HARM than good’.”
Cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malholtra led a coalition of medical experts whose study concluded statin drugs did more harm than good.
Again, Sir Richard Thompson, the Queen’s former personal physician, registered his support, this time also referring to the bogus lipid theory of heart disease:
“The seductive theory that cholesterol in the blood and the diet is the enemy, and therefore must be lowered at all costs, has diverted attention from the unnatural increase in sugar intake that has a greater influence on obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. It’s time for a rethink and a change in our diets.” (Source)
Here in the United States, mainstream media is hostage to the revenue from rampant direct to consumer advertising: print, radio, and especially TV advertising meant for convincing many to “… ask your doctor about [pharmaceutical product].”
Direct to consumer pharmaceutical advertising is allowed only in the USA and New Zealand. But most other industrialized nations don’t allow it.
This allows the media, especially print media, to step outside the boundaries of pharmaceutical propaganda, even if it’s only to create controversy. Unfortunately, it takes a lot to pry most out of the illusion that Big Pharma rules the mainstream medical establishment with an iron fist, and the motive is money and more money, not a concern for human health.
A good start here would be to stop allowing drug companies advertising direct to consumers via mainstream media outlets. This would allow the media to listen and report dissenting expert viewpoints, on at least statin drugs, for starters.
They [the media]could start with Dr. Jeffrey Dach of South Florida, who reports in his newsletter how Duane Graveline MD, MPH, a former NASA astronaut, suffered an unusual form of amnesia called transient global amnesia (TGA) from the statin Lipitor, twice. Dr. Dach has his own statin commentary as well in his newsletter, where he also recommends a cardiovascular disease remedy from Linus Pauling.
The second time was shame on him. So he researched why and how this happens when suppressing the main ingredient of brain and nerve matter, cholesterol, is drastically reduced. He explained this in his article “Lipitor: Thief of Memory” on his blog – space doc.
Sources and References
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This article (Millions of People Taking Statin Drugs Will Continue to Have Far Greater Chance of Harm than Benefit) was originally published on Health Impact News and syndicated by The Event Chronicle.