Panaceia or Hygeia

immunize yourself against the pandemic of lifestyle diseases

Posts Tagged ‘Lipitor’

MUHC Endorses Pfizer’s Products

Posted by Colin Rose on April 9, 2010

Lipitor.ca

This is a back lit box on the first floor of the Montreal General Hospital, the “mountain campus” of the MUHC. This is how the McGill University Health Centre is caring for your health. Obviously Pfizer expects that the “professionels de la santé” at the MUHC would highly recommend Pfizer’s products and obviously the MUHC administration expects that they would. How many $millions is Pfizer paying the MUHC for this priceless endorsement of its products which directly benefit those “professionels de la santé?” What would happen to any of the “professionels de la santé” who gave “précieux conseils” that Lipitor was useless in the vast majority of people for whom it is prescribed as described in our blog page on statins? Do true professionals associate with organizations that take money from the profits of companies selling the products they recommend? In Quebec our taxes are about to increase dramatically to pay for a “health contribution” a lot of which will go to paying for expensive, mostly useless drugs like Lipitor. That’s good business if you are running a hospital but not if you are really caring for health. If you would like to protest this highly unprofessional behaviour  phone Rebecca Burns (MUHC media) at (514) 934-1934 Ext. 71443 or  email Dr. Arthur Porter, CEO of the MUHC.

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Update, April 16, 2010

It seems the MUHC administration felt some heat. One week after posting this blog, the Pfizer ad had been removed. They reacted so fast that they had no replacement and had to leave only an embarrassing blank light box.

Thanks to all those who took the time to register their opinion of this example of grossly unprofessional behaviour.

One hopes that in the future McGill and the MUHC will think twice about prostituting themselves to the drug dealers.

MGH-Box

Posted in cholesterol, drug marketing, drugs, ethics, professionalism, statins | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Drug Marketing by “Study”

Posted by Colin Rose on December 13, 2008

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Posted in atherosclerosis, cardiology, cholesterol, drug marketing, professionalism, statins | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Disaster! Americans stop taking Lipitor.

Posted by Colin Rose on November 19, 2008

Well, I predicted many years ago that the exorbitant cost of drugs for lifestyle diseases would at some point destroy the cherished American ideal of unlimited consumption. It has happened a lot sooner than even I thought. The same attitude that powered the myth of free money and endless consumption of houses and goods is responsible for the myth of harmless gluttony while taking pills for “cholesterol”, hypertension and Type 2 diabetes, all, to a large extent, diseases of lifestyle.  Most of these drugs have never been shown to prolong life in the general population and should never have been prescribed in the first place. The same thing happens in Canada. I just saw a patient with normal blood sugar and normal “cholesterol” who was prescribed metformin and Lipitor “just in case”.

The profligate American lifestyle is undergoing a profound change. In the financial crunch It has finally dawned on a lot of people that they really don’t need those “cholesterol” pills, that they might be much better off if they just changed some of their greedy habits. In most cases it is not a choice between “meals and medication”. Less meals = less medication. Most Americans are eating far too much anyway.

Two-thirds of the US population is now overweight or obese, all “high risk” people on multiple drugs for treating the symptoms of inflammatory excess visceral fat. I predict we will witness a stabilization of amelioration of the pandemic of obesity and a marked drop in the costs of treating it’s complications, now about $75 billion per year in the US. It will be discovered anew that obesity is not genetic and one really doesn’t need a “gastric bypass” to lose weight. All you have to do is eat less.

You read it here first. Nothing like a financial collapse to cure gluttony.

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From the New York Times

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By STEPHANIE SAUL
Published: October 21, 2008

For the first time in at least a decade, the nation’s consumers are trying to get by on fewer prescription drugs.

As people around the country respond to financial and economic hard times by juggling the cost of necessities like groceries and housing, drugs are sometimes having to wait.

“People are having to choose between gas, meals and medication,” said Dr. James King, the chairman of the American Academy of Family Physicians, a national professional group. He also runs his own family practice in rural Selmer, Tenn.

“I’ve seen patients today who said they stopped taking their Lipitor, their cholesterol-lowering medicine, because they can’t afford it,” Dr. King said one recent morning.

“I have patients who have stopped taking their osteoporosis medication.”

On Tuesday, the drug giant Pfizer, which makes Lipitor, the world’s top-selling prescription medicine, said United States sales of that drug were down 13 percent in the third quarter of this year.

Through August of this year, the number of all prescriptions dispensed in the United States was lower than in the first eight months of last year, according to a recent analysis of data from IMS Health, a research firm that tracks prescriptions.

Although other forces are also in play, like safety concerns over some previously popular drugs and the transition of some prescription medications to over-the-counter sales, many doctors and other experts say consumer belt-tightening is a big factor in the prescription downturn.

The trend, if it continues, could have potentially profound implications.

If enough people try to save money by forgoing drugs, controllable conditions could escalate into major medical problems. That could eventually raise the nation’s total health care bill and lower the nation’s standard of living.

Martin Schwarzenberger, a 56-year-old accounting manager for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City, is stretching out his prescriptions. Mr. Schwarzenberger, who has Type 1 diabetes, is not cutting his insulin, but has started scrimping on a variety of other medications he takes, including Lipitor.

“Don’t tell my wife, but if I have 30 days’ worth of pills, I’ll usually stretch those out to 35 or 40 days,” he said. “You’re trying to keep a house over your head and use your money to pay all your bills.”

Although the overall decline in prescriptions in the IMS Health data was less than 1 percent, it was the first downturn after more than a decade of steady increases in prescriptions, as new drugs came on the market and the population aged.

From 1997 to 2007, the number of prescriptions filled had increased 72 percent, to 3.8 billion last year. In the same period, the average number of prescriptions filled by each person in this country increased from 8.9 a year in 1997 to 12.6 in 2007.

Dr. Timothy Anderson, a Sanford C. Bernstein & Company pharmaceutical analyst who analyzed the IMS data and first reported the prescription downturn last week, said the declining volume was “most likely tied to a worsening economic environment.”

In some cases, the cutbacks might not hurt, according to Gerard F. Anderson, a health policy expert at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “A lot of people think there there’s probably over-prescribing in the United States,” Mr. Anderson said.

But for other patients, he said, “the prescription drug is a lifesaver, and they really can’t afford to stop it.”

Dr. Thomas J. Weida, a family physician in Hershey, Pa., said one of his patients ended up in the hospital because he was unable to afford insulin.

Not everyone simply stops taking their drugs.

“They’ll split pills, take their pills every other day, do a lot of things without conferring with their doctors,” said Jack Hoadley, a health policy analyst at Georgetown University.

“We’ve had focus groups with various populations,” Mr. Hoadley said. “They’ll look at four or five prescriptions and say, ‘This is the one I can do without.’ They’re not going to stop their pain medication because they’ll feel bad if they don’t take that. They’ll stop their statin for cholesterol because they don’t feel any different whether they take that or not.”

Overall spending in the United States for prescription drugs is still the highest in the world, an estimated $286.5 billion last year. But that number makes up only about 10 percent of this country’s total health expenditures of $2.26 trillion.

Pharmaceutical companies have long been among those arguing that drugs are a cost-effective way to stave off other, higher medical costs.

The recent prescription cutbacks come even as the drug industry was already heading toward the “generic cliff,” as it is known — an approaching period when a number of blockbuster drugs are scheduled to lose patent protection. That will be 2011 for Lipitor.

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Already, a migration to generic drugs means that 60 percent of prescriptions over all are filled by off-brand versions of drugs. But with money tight, even cheaper generic drugs may not always be affordable drugs.

Factors other than the economy that may also be at play in the prescription downturn include adverse publicity about some big-selling medications — like the cholesterol medications Zetia and Vytorin, marketed jointly by Merck and Schering-Plough. And sales of Zyrtec, a popular allergy medication, moved out of the prescription category earlier this year when Johnson & Johnson began selling it as an over-the-counter medication.

Diane M. Conmy, the director of market insights for IMS Health, said the drop in prescriptions might also be partly related to the higher out-of-pocket drug co-payments that insurers are asking consumers to pay.

“Some consumers are making decisions based on the fact that they are bearing more of the cost of medicines than they have in the past,” Ms. Conmy said.

The average co-payment for drugs on insurers’ “preferred” lists rose to $25 in 2007, from $15 in 2000, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit health care research organization. And, of course, lots of people have no drug insurance at all. That includes the estimated 47 million people in the United States with no form of health coverage, but it is also true for some people who have medical insurance that does not include drug coverage — a number for which no good data may exist.

For older Americans, the addition of Medicare drug coverage in 2006 through the Part D program has meant that 90 percent of Medicare-age people now have drug insurance. And in the early going, Part D had helped stimulate growth in the nation’s overall number of prescriptions, as patients who previously had no coverage flocked to Part D.

But a potential coverage gap in each recipient’s benefit each year — the so-called Part D doughnut hole — means that many Medicare patients are without coverage for part of the year.

The recent IMS Health figures reveal that prescription volume declined in June, in July and again in August, mirroring studies from last year suggesting that prescription use begins dropping at about the time more Medicare beneficiaries begin entering the doughnut hole.

Under this year’s rules, the doughnut hole opens when a patient’s total drug costs have reached $2,510, which counts the portion paid by Medicare as well as the patient’s own out-of-pocket deductibles and co-payments.

The beneficiary must then absorb 100 percent of the costs for the next $3,216, until total drug costs for the year have reached $5,726, when Medicare coverage resumes.

Gloria Wofford, 76, of Pittsburgh, said she recently stopped taking Provigil, prescribed for her problem of falling asleep during the day, because she could no longer afford it after she entered the Medicare doughnut hole.

Her Provigil had been costing $1,695 every three months. “I have no idea who could do it,” she said. “There’s no way I could handle that.”

Without the medication, Ms. Wofford said, she falls asleep while sitting at her computer during the day but then cannot sleep during the night. Because she feels she has no choice, Ms. Wofford is paying out of pocket to continue taking an expensive diabetes medication that costs more than $500 every three months.

For some other people, the boundaries of when and where to cut back are less distinct.

Lori Stewart of Champaign, Ill., is trying to decide whether to discontinue her mother’s Alzheimer’s medications, which seem to have only marginal benefit.

“The medication is $182 a month,” said Ms. Stewart, who recently wrote about the dilemma on her personal blog.

“It’s been a very agonizing decision for me. It is literally one-fifth of her income.”

Posted in addiction, cholesterol, diabetes, Type 2, diet, drugs, junk food, obesity, statins | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“Health” spending in Canada hits $172-billion, outpacing inflation

Posted by Colin Rose on November 14, 2008

Drugs now cost more than doctors and the cost is rising faster than inflation. Sooner or later this insanity has to end. Probably sooner. With a likely world-wide depression in the next few years there will be awakening awareness that most of those expensive branded drugs, such as Lipitor and Crestor, are for lifestyle diseases, like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and atherosclerosis, related to junk food addiction which can be prevented and treated without drugs. But we need to take a $few billion of that $172 billion and put it into addiction research. Addictions of many kinds are at the root of most of the problems of developed capitalist democracies.

Note that Japan which spends per capita on its “health care” system only 38% of the USA and 70% of Canada has a longer life expectancy than either. Ergo, there is no relation between money spent on hospitals, drugs and doctors and life expectancy; if any, there is an inverse correlation. While everyone uses the term “health care” for the activities and effects of hospitals, drugs and doctors, these are really disease care. Some diseases can be cured but most can’t and in a high tech, fee-for-service medical system with an incentive only to do more, more people will be killed by the technology than saved by it.

Jeffrey Simpson in the Globe and Mail suggests as a solution to exponentially increasing costs more private “health” care. That will only increase the total cost as people with just spend more to support their addictions. Doctors in a fee-for-service regime will be only to happy to oblige. The only long-term solution I can see is to put all doctors on a salary. In such a system the driving incentive is to keep people healthy so doctors have less work to do. Paying doctors per disease is like paying firemen per fire. Would there be more or less fires? Would there be any incentive for fire departments to promote fire prevention? In a regime of totally salaried doctors costs would drop dramatically and the health of the population would markedly improve.


Health spending hits $172-billion, outpacing inflation
BY BRADLEY BOUZANE Canwest News Service
National Post
14 Nov 2008

OTTAWA  Health care in Canada will cost $172-billion this year, or nearly $5,200 for every person in the country, according to figures released yesterday by the Canadian Institute for Health Information. The independent statistical agency says that…read more…

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From the Globe and Mail, November 19, 2009

Listening to the sounds of health-care silence

JEFFREY SIMPSON

Where did health care go? Pollsters keep reporting that health care is the No. 1 issue for Canadians. We spend way more on it than on anything else. Yet, no one – well, almost no one – talks about it any more, at least not politically.
Sure, citizens recount their experiences with the system to each other. People who work in the system talk about it incessantly, health care being their world.
But as a public policy/political issue, health care has died. Died, despite the Canadian Institute for Health Information’s reporting last week that Canada will spend $172-billion this year on health, about 70 per cent from public sources. That works out to $5,170 per capita.
Health care gobbles up provincial (and federal) resources. It consumes 39 per cent of all provincial program expenditures – that is, spending on everything but  servicing the debt. In some provinces, health care’s share of program expenditures is 45 per cent. Soon, it will be 50 per cent and higher in all of them.
Health care consumed 7 per cent of the nation’s economic output in the mid-1970s, shortly after it was up and running. Now, it consumes 10.7 per cent. That share will keep on rising as the population ages, technology becomes more expensive, and demand grows.
No one knows how to stop the increase; in fact, large increases are hardwired into government spending plans. These increases are not improving the system, but they are keeping it from getting discernibly worse.
The Paul Martin government signed a deal with the provinces for a $41-billion transfer from Ottawa over 10 years starting in 2004-2005, with the transfer indexed yearly to 6 per cent. The Harper Conservatives, then in opposition, signed on to that deal and have never wavered.
Without that federal cash, provincial health-care plans would be struggling or imploding – or provinces would be forced to raise taxes or cut other services. As it is, their annual costs are rising by 4 per cent to 5 per cent after inflation. The federal cash keeps their systems afloat.
That’s one reason why silence surrounds the health-care debate. Caterwauling provinces can hardly complain about parsimonious Ottawa when such mighty rivers of federal cash are flowing their way. Similarly, almost complete silence reigns within federal politics, except for occasional election promises to spend  yet more money for provinces to hire more doctors. But with Ottawa already sending so much money to provincial capitals, these chirpings ring hollow.
It was cheap theatre for provinces to beat up on Ottawa when the federal government seemed to be rolling in dough. But after the Harper government spent the surplus it inherited by shovelling money to the provinces for the ‘fiscal imbalance,’ cut federal revenues through reductions to the GST and let spending proceed above the inflation rate, the surplus almost disappeared.
Now, with the economic tsunami upon us, the small surplus will head into deficit. Even if provinces clamoured for more health-care money, there wouldn’t be any.
The deeper reason for the silence is that no provincial government knows what to do about the system, except to keep it going, fiddle at the edges, try to improve administration here and there, negotiate the best collective bargaining agreements they can.
Nowhere in Canadian public affairs is the gap so wide between what those responsible for policy say and what they do. Privately, almost all of those responsible know that the spending increases are unsustainable and that some means must be found to allow more public services to be delivered privately.
Publicly, none of them dare say so.
Without that debate – and fear of public reaction keeps it closed – politicians spin their wheels, spend lots of money, patch the system, add something new here and there, and carry on.
The only idea for lowering the increase in health-care costs comes from those who claim, rightly, that the fastest-rising part of health-care budgets is the drug bill. Their answer: a national pharmaceutical plan integrated into medicare.
It might be recalled that, in 1997, Quebec introduced such a drug plan. It cost the treasury about $700-million that year. This year, the public cost will be $2.3-billion, a threefold increase in about a decade.

Posted in atherosclerosis, diabetes, diet, drugs, statins | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Medical Terrorism and the Big Lie

Posted by Colin Rose on July 5, 2008

Medical terrorism

Medical terrorism

Medical Terrorism

Medical Terrorism

Medical Terrorism

Medical Terrorism

If you go to www.makingtheconnection.ca you find that it is a Pfizer funded site. Pfizer spent many $millions on these terrorist ads. Pfizer makes Lipitor, a statin cholesterol-lowering drug and the biggest selling drug in the world. In 2005 about $US 12 billion was sold.

These advertisements appeared in many Canadian publications over the last few years. The implication is clear: either measure your cholesterol (and take a pill to lower it if you have “dyslipidemia” ) or you will die. This is a propaganda technique known as “the big lie“. Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf, “…the magnitude of a lie always contains a certain factor of credibility, since the great masses of the people in the very bottom of their hearts tend to be corrupted rather than consciously and purposely evil, and that, therefore, in view of the primitive simplicity of their minds they more easily fall a victim to a big lie than to a little one…” Pfizer has learned well. There is NO evidence that in an otherwise healthy person measuring blood cholesterol and taking a statin to lower blood cholesterol will live any longer than not doing so. Even the Canadian Government in allowing the publication of these ads swallowed the big lie.

All primary prevention trials to date of cholesterol lowering with drugs (LRC-CPPT, WOSCOPS, ASCOT-LLA) have shown NO total mortality benefit.

Posted in atherosclerosis, cholesterol, coronary artery disease, drugs, statins | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

ILLUSTRATE illustrates the futility of measuring and treating blood “cholesterol”

Posted by Colin Rose on March 31, 2007

Intravascular ultrasound is a sensitive method for measuring the size of atherosclerotic plaques in the arterial wall. When testing a drug to see if it will have an effect on plaque volume, this technique is the gold standard.

ILLUSTRATE set out to show that adding torcetrapib, a drug that increases HDL, the “good” cholesterol, to Lipitor, that decreases, LDL, “bad” cholesterol would reverse plaque or at least stop its progression.

Here are the baseline characteristics of the subjects. Note that the average BMI was 30. Overweight is defined as a BMI over 25 and obesity over 30. So, all of them were overweight or obese. 20% were diabetic, most likely Type 2, related to obesity, and 75% were hypertensive. 18% smoked. All of those factors are risk factors for atherosclerosis related to lifestyle. Therefore, unless one intends to first completely eliminate these lifestyle risk factors, it was unethical to even conceive such a trial particularly since it is proven that atherosclerosis can be reversed by lifestyle change alone. The trialists probably rationalized that atherosclerosis, like pneumonia, must be treatable by drugs and Pfizer, who funded the trial, has a slogan, “Working for a Healthier World” it is ethical to do such a trial. Besides the money helps to keep one’s IVUS lab going and one is promoting the notion that the technique will some day lead to the cure for atherosclerosis.

 

Legal Addictions

The typical ILLUSTRATE patient

Here are the reported results. What was not mentioned in the abstract above is that plaque actually INCREASED in both the the Lipitor only group and the Lipitor plus torcetrapib group. Now, before actually starting the trial, the subjects were given enough Lipitor to adhere to the guidelines written by doctors paid by Pfizer and other statin dealers. So, following the guidelines for blood cholesterol lowering with Lipitor does not slow progression of plaque. The obsession with blood cholesterol is completely futile.

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The conclusions of the authors shows their blinkered view of atherosclerosis. While Dr. Nissen donates his personal drug money to charity (how much is paid to run his IVUS lab, if any, is not stated), all the other authors have major financial connections to drug dealers. Revkin, Shear and Duggan are employees of Pfizer and own stock. Naturally this group would ignore non-drug methods for reversing atherosclerosis

We have known how to reverse the atherosclerotic process very easily since the revolutionary work of Dean Ornish the final report of which was published in 1998. No drugs are necessary, only a change in lifestyle which was not seriously attempted in this study. There is even no reference to Ornish’s work in the paper, a major oversight of the reviewers. So, why don’t the IVUS groups do a study of plaque volume after significant lifestyle change? Who would fund it? If Pfizer is really “Working for a Healthier World” and not just making a profit, Pfizer should be funding an IVUS lifestyle trial.

Posted in atherosclerosis, cholesterol, coronary artery disease, professionalism, statins | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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