Cholesterol Drugs (Statins) Under Fire as Ineffective and Possibly Dangerous

Several recent articles call into question the safety and effectiveness of the group of drugs designed to lower cholesterol known as Statins. Statin drugs are a class of drugs that that are supposed to lower cholesterol levels by blocking enzymes that are essential to cholesterol production. Among the statin drugs are: Lipitor (atorvastatin), Pravachol (pravastatin), Zocor (simvastatin), Mevacor (lovastatin), Lescol (fluvastatin), Baycol (Cerivastatin) (This drug has been recalled).

From the Canadian publication First Word, the September 9, 2003 issue starts off by saying, “A group of Canadian researchers from the University of British Columbia warns that statins may do as much harm as good.” Dr. Jim Wright, said that there appears to be almost no preventive benefit. The data showed that there was a 1.4 percent reduction in the risk of heart attack and stroke over a three- to five-year period, a news source reports. This would translate, Wright said, into a doctor having to treat 71 patients until one benefits. Side effects of the statins were the main concern among the Canadian researchers. These side effects can include, Fever, Muscle Cramps, Stomach Pain, Fatigue, Constipation, Diarrhea, Dizziness, Gas, Skin rash, Nausea.

On the heals of the Canadian study a British study reported on October 5, 2003 in the British Reuters, that states, “Half of British heart disease patients failed to get their cholesterol down to recommended levels after taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.” Dr. Adrian Brady, consultant cardiologist at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, told a meeting of the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society in Dublin that only 48 percent of 14,000 patients evaluated in a UK study reached national cholesterol goals. One of these drugs, Lipitor, produced by Pfizer Inc’s, is now the world’s top-selling medicine with annual sales of $8 billion.