Do cholesterol-lowering drugs constitute a medical miracle, almost free of side effects? Or is this a false, and close to criminal, misleading impression that pharmaceutical companies are promoting?
Here’s the popular Australian science television show Catalyst that reactionaries tried to stop. The show aired the other day, despite the protests.
The show does an excellent job of bringing forward a more nuanced picture than that of the drug advertisements. The reality is that cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins) may be beneficial for people already diagnosed with heart disease (previous myocardial infarction or angina).
For healthy people the benefit is minimal, and the risk of side effects (such as muscle pain, fatigue, disorientation and diabetes) usually outweighs the benefits.
Watch the episode for a frightening picture of how pharmaceutical companies have inflated the benefits and hidden the risk of side effects. But don’t be surprised. This is exactly how similar companies have been demonstrated to act in many similar cases.
These are no conspiracy theories. This is just how it works in a market economy with inadequate regulation and inadequate scrutiny. Companies will take shortcuts to greater profits as soon as they think they can get away with it.
Last week on Catalyst: The Real Cause of Heart Disease