Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cholesterol Lowering Drugs Fail Again

Reposted from Dr. Brownstein

The headline in the New York Times on 2.15.13 stated, “Merck Settles Suits of Cholesterol Drug”. The article indicated that Big Pharma Founding Cartel Member Merck agreed to pay $688 million to settle lawsuits claiming that it had harmed investors by delaying the release of unfavorable study results for its cholesterol drug Vytorin. The study was known as ENHANCE.
ENHANCE(1) was designed by researchers to prove that the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs will lower the risk for atherosclerosis—heart disease. This study was designed not to fail—unless the drugs don’t work. They enrolled 720 familial hypercholesterolemic (FH) people. FH patients have very high cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. It is a genetic, inherited, condition that affects one in a million people. ENHANCE was a randomized, double-blind, 24 month trial that compared the use of Zocor with and without Zetia against a placebo. Zocor is a statin medication. Zetia is a cholesterol-lowering medication that works by blocking cholesterol absorption in the gut. Vytorin is the drug that combines both Zocor and Zetia. The subjects were followed by carotid ultrasound looking for changes in carotid artery thickness. The hypothesis was that lowering cholesterol would decrease atherosclerosis in the carotid arteries which would translate into a lowered risk for heart attacks.
What were the results? Well, it took a while to see the results. You see Merck knew, in 2006, that their drugs–Vytorin and Zocor–were failures from the ENHANCE study results. Yet, they did not release ENHANCE’s results so that they could continue to sell ineffective drugs. Only when faced with congressional action and mounting public pressure did Merck finally released the ENHANCE data in 2008—two years later! What happened in those two years? Merck sold a lot of Vytorin and Zocor, that’s what happened. In 2007, Zocor and Vytorin brought in a combined $5 billion.
Let’s look at the results of ENHANCE. Cholesterol levels fell in both treatment groups—those treated with Zocor alone and those treated with Vytorin. However, the end point of the study, carotid artery thickness, actually WORSENED in both treatment groups. You read that correctly—the treatments did lower cholesterol but failed to decrease the carotid artery thickness.
You would think that doctors upon seeing the failure of these drugs would stop prescribing them. Sorry, you would think wrong. In 2012, the combined sales of Vytorin and Zocor were $4.4 billion.
Cholesterol-lowering medications do not significantly decrease your risk of atherosclerosis, heart attacks or strokes. It is unbelievable how conventional medicine has been hijacked to erroneously believe that poisoning the enzyme that makes cholesterol will lower the risk for heart disease. In fact, cholesterol-lowering medications are the most profitable drug class for the Big Pharma Cartel. Cholesterol-lowering medications have never been shown to prevent a first cardiovascular event. The best these drugs have been shown to do is to lower the risk of a non-fatal heart attack by 1% in patients who have already had a cardiovascular event.
I predict that, someday, in the future, we will look back on this time period in medicine as the dark days. More information about cholesterol-lowering medications can be found in my book, Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do. You can order it by clicking here: