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The Cardiometabolic Risk Working Group: Another Coven Practising Drug-Induced Magical Thinking

Posted by Colin Rose on April 14, 2011

The latest issue of the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, published by the Canadian Cardiovascular Society (CCS), both of which are largely funded by the drug industry has shamelessly published a “Position Statement by the Cardiometabolic Risk Working Group” (see highlights below). We have previously blogged about the American “Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults” and the Canadian “Working Group on Hypercholesterolemia and Other Dyslipidemias”. Now that the ability of “cholesterol” to induce terror in doctors and patients has become a little worn and less profitable, drug dealers have invented a new disease, “cardiometabolic risk” with which to terrorize asymptomatic people into demanding even more drugs and doctors into prescribing them. Many of the members of the previous covens have migrated to the new one.

These medical covens take it upon themselves to dictate to the rest of the medical profession what drugs should be prescribed to prevent diseases of lifestyle in the otherwise “normal” population, so-called primary prevention. How are these covens assembled and what gives them the authority to establish norms for other doctors? This paper reveals in stunning clarity the answers to these questions. As we can see from the Acknowledgements and Disclosures sections, most of the authors of this Position Statement have many long-term financial relations with many drug dealers. Of the ten members of the executive committee of the Cardiometabolic Risk Working Group, nine have multiple financial relations with drug dealers and of the whole Working Group 19 out of 21 have similar relations. Clearly, drug dealers have distributed tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars to these doctors, justified under various guises, to facilitate a culture of drug dependency. Drug dealers choose members of  the Working Group, pay them to be “authors”, pay a medical writer to compose the Position Statement and get it published in a journal which would not exist without the financial support of the same drug dealers. Why am I not impressed and why would any other doctor follow the advice of this coven? But most family physicians and many cardiologists treat this sort of statement, endorsed by presumably unassailable organizations like the CCS, as revealed truth by a mysterious higher authority in possession of occult knowledge that must be accepted or suffer ostracism by one’s colleagues. Of course it doesn’t hurt that a 30-second drug prescription for numerical symptoms of junk food addiction is much easier that spending many unpaid hours reducing the addiction, the only real way to prevent its consequences.

Here is an example of the occult numerological incantations of the Working Group. Compare this with the occult number philosophy of Agrippa based on the pentacle below.

Optimize lipid levels. In patients with cardiometabolic risk with a moderate or high Framingham Risk Score, treatment should be initiated with a statin to reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) by at least 50% and to 2.0 mmol/L. Apo B levels are a better measurement of lipid-related risk in these patients, and the target level for treatment is 0.8 g/L in high-risk and moderate-risk individuals. There is a large residual risk for patients at high risk for CVD, despite LDL-C reduction with high-dose statins. Many patients with cardio- metabolic risk may also have an acquired combined hyperlipidemia, associated with increased triglycerides (TGs), a modest increase in LDL-C, and low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C). LDL particle numbers are increased, as reflected by the increased levels of apo B100. Beyond LDL-C lowering, strategies that might reduce the residual risk include reducing the total cholesterol (TC) to HDL-C ratio, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, and TG, although there are no clinical trial data to date to support such strategies. In the patient with diabetes, glycemic control optimization and health behaviour modification should be attempted prior to the addition of another agent, such as a fibrate. In the Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes trial the addition of fenofibrate to simvastatin in patients with type 2 diabetes failed to show any reduction of CV events, although there may have been benefit in the subset of individuals with high TG/low HDL-C.

The deliberations of the Cardiometabolic Risk Working Group have much in common with pagan covens with occult rituals and symbols like the pentacle which when worn will drive out evil numbers such as “cholesterol”. Expensive statins for “cholesterol” and ARBs for high blood pressure are the new pentacle. The significance of the pentacle, as described by Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy, makes as much sense as the Position Statement of the Working Group.  “A Pentangle also, as with the vertue of the number five hath a very great command over evil spirits, so by its lineature, by which it hath within five obtuse angles, and without five acutes, five double triangles by which it is surrounded. The interior pentangle containes in it great mysteries, which also is so to be enquired after, and understood; of the other figures, viz. triangle, quadrangle, sexangle, septangle, octangle, and the rest, of which many, as they are made of many and divers intersections…

When one manages to decode the occult numerology of the Statement one can see that the goal of the Working Group is to have every overweight junk-food addict in Canada, the typical “high-risk” patient, on some combination of pills for “high” blood pressure and “high” cholesterol. The “targets” for blood pressure and cholesterol are set low and arbitrarily to guarantee that most of the Canadian population would be on some drug. The drug dealers can be assured that doctors will prescribe the newest, most expensive patented drug rather than a cheaper generic alternative because they have already spend hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising the advantages of the patented drugs. This is called clever marketing but it has nothing to do with the health of the population. The consequences of self-destructive lifestyles will not be lessened by any number of drugs which will have the unintended consequence of worsening those lifestyles when people are convinced they can continue those lifestyles with impunity under the “protection” of drugs that make the numerical symptoms of those lifestyles look better. While the Position Statement gives lip service to the necessity of “health behaviour interventions” it insists also on the necessity of “vascular protective measures”, code for expensive drug prescription.

Canada is currently in the middle of a federal election campaign in which the most important issue for voters is “health care”. All parties are promising to increase “health care” spending by 6% a year indefinitely. With an inflation rate of only 2%, a PhD in mathematics is not required to see that in the not too distant future “health care” will consume the entire tax revenue of federal and provincial governments. The increase in “health care” spending is driven by the sort of activities represented by this Position Statement but no candidate dares to mention drug-induced magical thinking in their campaign speeches or platforms. The electorate loves its addictions and demands infinite “health care” to provide the mirage of protection from the consequences of those addictions and any candidate who points out the obvious absurdity of this belief is dead electoral meat.

How can we exorcise the myths promoted by these venal covens? There at two excellent drug review publications written by authors with absolutely no connection to drug dealers that should be required reading for every doctor: Prescrire, a French publication available in English, which is expensive but is the gold standard in independent thinking about drugs and the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin of Navarre, a Spanish publication, available in English, which is free but covers a limited range of drugs. A recent excellent article from the latter, “Magical numbers in pharmacological prevention of cardiovascular disease and fractures: a critical appraisal“, analyzed in detail the occult numerology of the drug-funded covens’ pontifications on “primary prevention” and concludes,

A considerable part of the pharmacological recommendations to prevent cardiovascular events and fractures in healthy persons lack any solid justification. No clear efficacy, nor the size of the effect of these agents or a clear balance between risk and benefit make the intervention clinically and socially worthwhile. The “therapeutic targets” and the “operative definition” of disease or risk factor that include instruments or tables to calculate risk are new gateways to unnecessary medicalization. In the context of modern medicine, immersed in conflicts of interest, the physician is obliged to interpret the results of trials and the recommendations from guidelines and consensus at a critical distance, and to place emphasis on the development of clinical prudence as a desired skill.

In other words a truly professional doctor will ignore any advice from the drug dealer funded covens and use his or her own best judgement.

Lawrence A. Leiter, David H. Fitchett, Richard E. Gilbert, Milan Gupta, G. B. John Mancini, Philip A. McFarlane, Robert Ross, Hwee Teoh, Subodh Verma,  Sonia Anand, Kathryn Camelon, Chi-Ming Chow, Jafna L. Cox, Jean-Pierre Després, Jacques Genest, Stewart B. Harris, David C. W. Lau, Richard Lewanczuk, Peter P. Liu, Eva M. Lonn, MD, Ruth McPherson, Paul Poirier, Shafiq Qaadri, Rémi Rabasa-Lhoret, Simon W. Rabkin, Arya M. Sharma, Andrew W. Steele, James A. Stone, Jean-Claude Tardif, Sheldon Tobe, Ehud Ur

Posted in Canada, cardiology, cholesterol, cme, continuing medical education, diabetes, diabetes, Type 2, diet, drug marketing, drugs, election, ethics, health care, junk food, medical terrorism, obesity, professionalism, statins | 5 Comments »

The wrong food fight

Posted by Colin Rose on February 11, 2009

Very well written. But the biggest nutritional problem is not finding cheap brown rice but obesity, too many calories from all sources, resulting in many disastrous consequences, like Type 2 diabetes. If the population cut calorie intake by an average of 20% we could save $billions in food, waste disposal and medical costs. And the best way to do that is to ditch the junk food. However, I note that Becel margarine is a “founding sponsor” of the HSF. If there is any food junkier than margarine I would like to know. So the HSF can’t risk condemning junk food and losing it’s main sponsor.


The wrong food fight

National Post
11 Feb 2009

We feel awkward questioningthe judgment of the Heart and Stroke Foundation (HSF) when it comes to cardiac health issues, but their new and much-trumpeted report about the supposed costs of healthy eating seems deranged. The foundation blasts grocers…read more…

 

 

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

Cardiac disease threatens diabetics

Posted by Colin Rose on November 26, 2008

Dr. Terrence Ruddy, chief of cardiology at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, says the increasing number of people with diabetes is a major concern across the medical profession.

“The increasing number with diabetes is directly related to the increasing number with obesity,” he says. “We have an epidemic of obesity in young and older people. In older people, that is giving them diabetes now. In younger people, it will give them diabetes in the next 20 to 40 years.” It’s vital to reduce obesity, “not just for 40- to 50-year-olds but in 10 to 20-year-olds,” he says. “We need more money flowing into educational programs focused on lifestyle changes — increased activity, appropriate diet and weight loss in young people. Decrease obesity to decrease diabetes.”

Yet at least 500 cardiologists around the world were paid by AstraZeneca to take part in JUPITER, a clinical “trial” of Crestor in which most subjects were overweight or obese and NO attempt was made to reduce their weights. 1.5% per year became diabetic due to their inflamed excess visceral fat. Probably at least US$500 million flowed into this “trial” with NO “educational programs focused on lifestyle changes”.

Doctors pay lip service to the need to fight obesity but money talks. Those cardiologists probably received at least $1000 per subject to enroll them in the JUPITER “trial”. Why would they dare to insist upon lifestyle change first before enrolling the subject and forgo this income? Members of the “JUPITER Study Group” presumably overseeing the “trial” for AstraZeneca were probably paid $100,000 each for their “consultation”. Why would they insist on lifestyle change first before agreeing to participate?

 


Cardiac disease threatens diabetics
IRIS WINSTON CANWEST NEWS SERVICE
The Gazette
26 Nov 2008

Just one year after Dale Frayling was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, he suffered his first heart attack. Four months later, he had a second, more severe attack followed by bypass surgery. That was 11 years ago. The Saskatoon resident, now 57, has…read more…

 

Also blogged here: 1, 2


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Here is the list of the cardiologists paid to participate in the JUPITER study who care more about money than advising patients on the best way to prevent atherosclerosis and diabetes.

Paul M Ridker, M.D., Eleanor Danielson, M.I.A., Francisco A.H. Fonseca, M.D., Jacques Genest, M.D., Antonio M. Gotto, Jr., M.D., John J.P. Kastelein, M.D., Wolfgang Koenig, M.D., Peter Libby, M.D., Alberto J. Lorenzatti, M.D., Jean G. MacFadyen, B.A., Børge G. Nordestgaard, M.D., James Shepherd, M.D., James T. Willerson, M.D., Robert J. Glynn, Sc.D., for the JUPITER Study Group

Appendix. JUPITER Clinical Sites

Argentina 253: Altamirano J, Berrizbeitia M, Boskis P, Colombo H, Cuadrado J, Cuneo
C, Diaz M, Esper R, Fernandez A, Foye R, Hershson A, Kuschnir E, La Greca R,
Lorenzatti A, Lozada A, Luciardi H, Luquez H, Maffei L, Majul C, Marin M, Muntaner
J, Nul D, Paolasso E, Rey R, Rodenas P, Rodriguez P, Rojas C, Telsolin P, Vita N,
Belgium 487: Adrianes G, Argento O, Bacart P, Baeck L, Baguet J, Balthazar Y, Battello
G, Behets J, Beke P, Bemden S, Berwouts P, Boermans P, Bolly F, Borms J, Boulad M,
Boulanger L, Bous J, Boxstael R, Brands Y, Buyse L, Calozet Y, Camps K, Capiau L,
Celis H, Coucke F, D’Argent F, De Beeck G, De Meulemeester M, De Praeter K, De
Rouck S, Delcourt A, Delvaux J, Demanet E, Derijcke M, Deruyck C, Devaux J, Dupont
C, Duyse J, Erpicum L, Gilio C, Gillet A, Grosjean J, Heeren J, Henry G, Heyvaert F,
Hollanders G, Hutsebaut A, Janssens P, Lannoy H, Ledoux C, Legros P, Leliaert R,
Martens R, Maury O, Mehuys G, Michaux J, Migeotte A, Mortelmans J, Mulders N,
Parijs P, Peer W, Pieters E, Reynders P, Riet D, Robert P, Stee J, Teheux J, Teuwen J,
Timmermans B, Tshinkulu M, Vantroyen D, Veevaete M, Vercruysse K, Vereecken G,
Vermeersch L, Vernijns J, Verspecht E, Vinck G, Vrancken F, Watte G, Weymans J,
Windmolders S, Ziekenhuis J, Ziekenhuis P, Brazil 327: Albuquerque D, Barbosa E,
Bertolami M, Blacher C, Brasileiro A, Eliaschewitz F, Esteves J, Feitosa G, Filho H,
Filho R, Fonseca F, Forti A, Francischetti E, Franco R, Gomes M, Gross J, Jardim P,
Kohlmann O, Loures-Vale A, Magalhaes M, Maia L, Moriguchi E, Nogueira P, Oigman W,
Repetto G, Saraiva J, Xavier H, Bulgaria 197: Balanescu S, Benov H, Chompalova B,
Donova T, Gocheva N, Goudev A, Grigorov M, Gruev T, Hergeldjieva V, Marchev S,
Mihov A, Pasheva V, Penev A, Popov A, Raev D, Sirakova V, Slavcheva A, Stoikov A,
Stoilov R, Tisheva S, Todorov G, Torbova S, Uzunangelov J, Canada 2020: Achyutna G,
Akhras R, Arun N, Barriere G, Bartlett J, Behiels S, Bell A, Bergeron J, Berlingieri J,
Bhamjee H, Bodok-Nutzati R, Booth W, Boyd C, Brault S, Bruckswaiger D, Bukovy B,
Campbell G, Carlson B, Cha J, Chehayeb R, Cheng W, Chilvers M, Chouinard G,
Chow W, Conter H, Conway J, Craig D, Dattani I, Del Grande R, Dharamshi S,
Dickson M, Dion D, Dowell A, Drexler J, Dube S, Dupont A, Dworkin B, Fields L,
Filteau P, Gardiner E, Gervais B, Gillis G, Girard R, Goldman H, Gorfinkel I, Goulet S,
Greenspoon A, Gritter R, Gupta A, Gupta M, Habib R, Harding R, Hart R, Henein S,
Henry D, Hirsch A, Ho K, Hoag G, Houde D, Howlett E, Ing G, Jadd J, Janes J, Jardine F,
Johnston T, Kanani S, Kazimirski M, Kelly A, Klajner F, Kooy J, Lalani A, Lam S,
Laranjeiro J, Larose D, Leiter L, Leung W, Li J, Lowe D, Luces K, Ma P, MacKinnon R,
Martinho V, Matangi M, McCrossin M, McIsaac J, McMullen W, Mehta P, Meunier M,
Misik K, Ng A, Nigro F, Noronha L, O’Mahony W, Pandey S, Papp E, Patel V , Patrick L,
Peddle C, Pinsky N, Poirier P, Powell C, Price J, Rolfe A, Saliba N, Sawkiw R, Senior R,
Shu D, Smith R, Somani R, Soowamber M, Stakiw K, Talbot P, Taliano J, Tan K,
Teitelbaum I, Threoux P, Tremblay G, Turcotte C, Tytus R, Walsh P, Webb G,
Willoughby P, Woo V, Woodland R, Yee G, Chile 83: Blanco M, Cardenas N,
Dominguez J, Gutierrez M, Jalaf M, Olivares P, Rodriguez B, Saelezer C, Stockins B,
Colombia 345: Ardila W, Aschner P, Botero J, Botero R, Calderon C, Casas L,
Castellanos R, Chaves A, Cure C, Escobar I, Fortich A, Garcia L, Hernandez E, Isaza D,
Jaramillo N, Kattah W, Marin M, Matiz C, Quintero A, Rizcala A, Rodriguez N, Ruiz A,
Urina M, Valenzuela A, Costa Rica 270: Cob-Sanchez A, Gutreiman-Golberg M,
Lainez-Ventosilla A, Ramirez-Zamoraa L, Slon-Hitti C, Vinocour-Fornieri M, Denmark
336: Hansen H, Nordestgaard B, Steffensen R, Stender S, El Salvador 162: Abrego H,
Renderos J, Rivera-Ochoa L, Estonia 85: Eha J, Jaanson E, Kaasik U, Keba E, Maetos E,
Petersen M, Reinmets S, Roostalu U, Vahula V, Veidrik K, Germany 222: Bellmann R,
Hanefeld M, Horacek T, Klein C, Knels R, Koenig W, Laus S, Meibner G, Mondorf C,
Schell E, Schuster H, Sehnert W, Stahl H, Szelazek G, Winkelmann B, Witczak E, Israel
143: Avishay E, Gavish A, Grossman E, Haratz D, Hussein O, Keider S, Levy Y, Shapiro
I, Shveydel E, Wolfovitz E, Yogev R, Zeltser D, Mexico 741: Escarcega J, Galvez G,
Gonzalez J, Guajardo S, Gutierrez-Fajardo P, Ibara M, Leon J, Lozano F, Munoz E, Pina
J, Romero-Zazueta A, Sanchez R, Takahashi H, Villalpando C, Villegas E, Netherlands
987: Agous I, Bak A, Bartels G, Basart D, Cornel J, De Schipper L, Holwerda N, Kose
V, Koster Y, Lok D, Lokhorst B, Mosterd A, Nierop P, Oude Ophuis A, Somer S, Tiebesl
J, Trip M, Van Hessen M, Van Kempen W, Wassenaar M, Norway 204: Andresen M,
Berz A, Bjurstrom M, Bo P, Brunstad O, Daae-Johansen T, Elle S, Fauske J, Fossdal B,
Gjefsen O, Hallaraker A, Haugen J, Helberg S, Holm-Johnsen S, Istad H, Jacobsen T,
Johansen R, Jorstad T, Jorum I, Kjorlaug K, Kontny F, Langaker K, Larsen B, Lonning
S, Loraas A, Mansilla-Tinoco R, Medhus R, Meyer I, Nasrala S, Ofjord E, Ose L, Palmas
J, Risberg K, Sandberg A, Sirnes P, Skjegstad E, Skjelvan G, Solnor L, Storm-Larsen A,
Tandberg A, Tomala T, Torkelsen A, Ursin A, Valnes K, Walaas K, Panama 202: Binns
R, Delgado A, Lombana B, Noriega L, Trujillo R, Poland 804: Artemiuk E, Asankowicz-
Bargiel B, Banas I, Baranska E, Baranski M, Bijata-Bronisz R, Sikorska A, Blasszczyk B,
Bolanowski J, Brokl-Stolarczyk B, Brzecki K, Buczkowski K, Chmielewski T, Chojnowska-
Jezierska J, Chwist-Nowak A, Cygan W, Czajkowska-Kaczmarek E, Dargiewicz A,
Dluzniewski M, Dudka C, Fares I, Flasinska J, Gadzinski W, Gaszczyk G, Golebiowski G,
Gozdur W, Grudzien K, Kalamarz J, Kalinowska A, Kornacewicz-Jach Z, Korol M,
Korycka W, Kostka T, Kostrzewska A, Kot A, Kowalczyk-Kram M, Kowalska-Werbowy B,
Krupinska G, Lotocka E, Luberda-Heynar Z, Lukas W, Lysek R, Machyna-Dybala A,
Mlynarczyk-Jeremicz K, Mocarska-Gorna B, Niedbal-Yahfouf I, Pasternak D, Potakowska I,
Ramian U, Roleder M, Rosinska-Migda J, Sidorowicz-Bialynicka A, Skierkowska J,
Skorinko I, Slaboszewska J, Sleziak-Barglik K, Sobieska E, Stachlewski P, Superson-Byra E,
Tissler-Nahorska G, Turbak R, Uzunow A, Wasowicz D, Wodniecki J, Wojnowski L,
Wrzol A, Zdrojewska J, Zurakowska-Krzywonos A, Zurowska-Gebala M, Romania 32:
Ablachim T, Abobului M, Bobescu E, Bojinca M, Cristea M, Gaita D, Stoicovici R, Tataru R,
Tudose A, Russia 273: Ardashev V, Arutyunov G, Azarin O, Barbarash O, Bondarev S,
Borisov M, Boyarkin M, Burova N, Chazova I, Dovgalevsky P, Duplyakov D, Egorova L,
Goloshchekin B, Gratsianskiy N, Ivleva A, Karpov R, Karpov Y, Khokhlov A, Khokhlov R,
Khrustalev O, Konyakhin A, Kostenko V, Libov I, Lukyanov Y, Mezentseva N, Panov A,
Repin M, Shabalin A, Shalaev S, Shilkina N, Shulman V, Sidorenko B, Smolenskaya O,
Starodubtsev A, Talibov O, Titkov Y, Tsyba L, Uspenskil Y, Vishnevsky A, Yarokhno N,
South Africa 2497: Ahmed S, Ashtiker H, Bester A, Bhorat Q, Biermann E, Boyd W, Burgess L,
Dindar F, Dulabh R, Engelbrecht I, Erasmus E, Fouche L, Furman S, Govind U, Herbst
L, Jacovides A, Kahanovitz C, Kruger C, Lakha D, Lombaard J, MacLeod A, Makan H,
Manuel E, McDonald M, Mitha E, Mitha I, Moola S, Nell H, Nieuwoudt G, Olivier P,
Padayachee T, Pillai P, Pillay S, Ranjith N, Reyneke S, Routier R, Sandell P, Sebastian P,
Skriker M, Smit J, van Rensburg D, van Zyl L, Vawda Z, Wellman H, Switzerland 15:
Stahl M, United Kindom 2873: Adbulhakim E, Angus M, Balmer F, Balmer J, Barrat R,
Blair D, Blyth A, Brodie R, Brydie D, Campbell C, Campbell I, Church M, Clark C,
Clements R, Donnachie H, Fitpatrick P, Godley C, Hill J, Jarvie F, Kieran W, Langridge S,
Leslie R, Liddell A, MacKenzie J, MacKintosh C, Mair R, Marshall G, Martin R,
McCann C, McKibbin C, McLachlan B, McLean F, Murray S, Norris A, Pawa R, Pexton
N, Ramage A, Reid S, Robertson A, Rourke E, Sarmiento R, Shaw H, Shaw R, Sheil L,
Spence G, Stewart E, Thomas H, Thomson J, Thomson W, Travers J, Ward R, Williams
L, Wooff D, Young W, Uruguay 14: Belzarena C, Huarte A, Kuster F, Lluberas R,
Speranza-Sanchez M, United States 4021: Abarikwu C, Abate L, Abbott R, Ackley C,
Adams G, Adkins S, Albakri E, Albarracin C, Allison J, Alvarado O, Alwine L, Amin K,
Amin M, Anderson J, Anderson M, Anderson W, Andrawis N, Andrews C, Angles L,
Aquino N, Ariani M, Armstrong C, Aronoff S, Arora N, Atri P, Baker J, Baker K, Balli
E, Banish D, Bardenheier J, Barnett G, Bartkowiak A, Basista M, Beliveau W, Bell G,
Benchimol G, Bennett B, Bennett N, Bermudez Y, Bernstein J, Berroya A, Bhargava M,
Biaggioni I, Bimson S, Bittar N, Bleser S, Blumberg M, Bobson C, Boeren J, Bogan R,
Boling E, Booras C, Borge A, Brady J, Brandon D, Bredlau C, Brideau D, Brobyn T,
Brodowski M, Broker R, Broussard C, Brown C, Browning D, Brusco O, Bryant J,
Buchanan P, Bueso G, Burgess G, Burke B, Buynak R, Byrd L, Camilo-Vazquez E,
Campbell J, Cannon L, Capo J, Carmouche D, Castaldo R, Castilleja J, Caudill T, Caulin-
Glaser T, Champlin J, Chardon-Feliciano D, Cheng T, Cherlin R, Cheung D, Chodock A,
Christensen J, Christian D, Christiansen L, Ciemiega R, Clark J, Coble S, Cohen K,
Colan D, Cole F, Cole R, Colleran K, Collins G, Conard S, Cook J, Cooperman M,
Cooze D, Copeland T, Corder C, Courtney D, Cox W, Crump W, Cruz L, Cuellar J,
Cunningham T, Daboul N, Dailey R, Dallas A, Dansinger M, Dao L, Darwin C, Dauber
I, Davidson M, Davis P, Degarmo R, Degoma R, Dempsey M, Denny D, Denyer G,
Desai V, Despot J, Dewan M, Dickert J, Diederich C, Doben S, Dobratz D, Douglas B,
Drehobl M, Dresner J, Dreyfus J, Drummond W, Dunbar W, Dunlap J, Dunmyer S,
Eaton C, Ecker A, Edris M, Egbujiobi L, Elkind A, Ellis J, Ellison H, Engeron E, Erdy G,
Ervin W, Eshowsky S, Estock D, Fang C, Fanning J, Feinberg B, Feld L, Fenton I,
Fernandez E, Ferrera R, Fiacco P, Fierer R, Finneran M, Fintel D, Fischer M, Flippo G,
Flores A, Folkerth S, Forbes R, Fowler R, Francis P, Franco M, Frank A, Fraser N,
Fuchs R, Gabriel J, Gaddam S, Gaffney M, Gamponia M, Gandhi D, Ganzman H, Gaona
R, Gaona R Jr, Garibian G, Garofalo J,, Gatewood R, Gazda S, Geiger R, Geller M,
Germino W, Gibbs R, Gifford C, Gilhooley N, Gill S, Gillespie E, Godwin D, Goldberg
M, Goldberg R, Goldstein M, Gonzalez-Ortiz E, Goodman D, Gordon G, Gordon M,
Goswami A, Gottlieb D, Gottschlich G, Graham D, Gray J, Gray W, Green S, Greenberg
R, Greenspan M, Greenwald M, Grover D, Gupta, R, Gupta-Bala S, Guthrie R, Gutmann
J, Gvora T, Habib G, Hack T, Haidar A, Hamdy O, Hansen M, Hanshaw C, Hargrove J,
Harris H, Harris H, Harrison B, Hart T, Heacock J, Head D, Headley D, Henderson D,
Herman L, Herrera C, Hershberger V, Hershon K, Heym H, Hill G, Hippert R, Hirsch A,
Hnatiuk G, Hoekstra J, Holt W, Homan J, Honsinger R, Howard J, Howard V, Howard
W, Huling R, Imburgia M, Isajiw G, Ison R, Iverson W, Jacks R, Jackson B, Jackson K,
Jacobs J, Jacobson E, James A, Jayanty V, Johary A, Johnson G, Jones P, Jones T, Joseph
J, Julien C, Kahn Z, Kalvaria I, Kang J, Kaplan I, Karns R, Kashi K, Kaster S, Kaufman
A, Kawley F, Keller R, Kenton D, Kerlin J, Kern J, Kerwin E, Kerzner B, Ketchum J,
Khan J, Khan S, Khawar M, Khera A, Kinstrey T, Klein B, Klein E, Klein S, Klein T,
Kleinsteuber K, Klementowicz P, Knopp R, Knutson T, Koch S, Kramer M, Krause R,
Krisciunas V, Krueger C, Kruszewski D, Kumar R, Kunst E, Kuo D, Kuritsky L,
Kushner P, Kutner M, Kwiterovich P, Kwong S, Lanese J, Lang B, Lary J, Lasalle J,
Lasater S, Lasser N, Laughlin D, Lawless J, Lawlor D, Ledbetter J, Ledesma G, Lee D,
Lemanski P, Levinson G, Levinson L, Lewis D, Lewis L, Lewis S, Linden D, Loh I,
Look M, Lopez D, Loskovitz L, Lubin B, Lucas M, MacAdams M, Madden B, Magee P,
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Posted in atherosclerosis, cardiology, cholesterol, coronary artery disease, diabetes, diabetes, Type 2, diet, drugs, junk food, obesity, professionalism, statins | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

JUPITER is a gas giant

Posted by Colin Rose on November 21, 2008

An excellent article by André Picard in today’s Globe and Mail, the only story on JUPITER I have seen in the lay press that reveals the massive fraud behind the reporting of this “study”.

JUPITER is aptly named. It’s gigantic. Probably the largest, most expensive drug trial in history. When one looks below the surface of the publication in the NEJM, the results are about as exciting as the Jovian composition. A lot of gas. I would conservatively estimate that this “study” cost at least $500 million. But if you are AstraZeneca and stand to sell $many billions worth of Crestor because of this paper that’s small change. And junk food addicts, who comprise most of the subjects of JUPITER have one more excuse, however deceptive, to continue their self-destructive habits.

Here is my opinion posted in the NEJM blog on the paper.

nyt-jupiter-unethical

A more detailed analysis of the marketing driven deception and lack of professionalism in the paper by Sandy Szwarc.

Another perspective by John McDougall similar to mine on the big lie behind the claim that many “healthy” people need Crestor..

When all of these criticisms are considered it turns out that JUPITER is nothing more than a thinly disguised  infomercial for Crestor and should never have been published in a presumably high quality journal like the NEJM. But in being able to make this paper freely available on the web (and not wait 6 months like other papers) the NEJM must have received a large payment from AstraZeneca.

Non-blinded statin trials like JUPITER, have the potential for bias in subjective outcomes like the decision to do an angioplasty or coronary bypass, outcomes that constitute the vast majority of the combined endpoint. Also, it is quite likely that when the JUPITER subjects knew that their blood LDL was low because they were taking Crestor they had less incentive to change self-destructive lifestyles. That is probably why the group treated with Crestor had significantly more diabetes. In light of the JUPITER trial the Therapeutics Initiatives group at the University of British Columbia has updated their recommendations for use of statins in primary prevention, which would include people like those entered into the JUPITER trial, and concluded that “statins do not have a proven net health benefit in primary prevention populations and thus when used in that setting do not represent good use of scarce health care resources.

See a slide show on JUPITER and “dyslipidemia”.

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Lead “investigators” of JUPITER

Paul M Ridker, M.D., Eleanor Danielson, M.I.A., Francisco A.H. Fonseca, M.D., Jacques Genest, M.D., Antonio M. Gotto, Jr., M.D., John J.P. Kastelein, M.D., Wolfgang Koenig, M.D., Peter Libby, M.D., Alberto J. Lorenzatti, M.D., Jean G. MacFadyen, B.A., Børge G. Nordestgaard, M.D., James Shepherd, M.D., James T. Willerson, M.D., Robert J. Glynn, Sc.D., for the JUPITER Study Group

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Dominican Republic

What typical JUPITER subjects would look like. These are "apparently healthy" people? Is it not unethical to prescribe drugs to these people to "treat" the symptoms of their self-destructive lifestyles?

Nowhere in the JUPITER paper will you see it mentioned that CRP can be markedly reduced with cost-free lifestyle change alone, no statins, as shown in this paper in the Journal of Applied Physiology in 2006, results of which are summarized below. The subjects in the JAP paper were just the same as in the JUPITER study, obese people, many with metabolic syndrome but the authors did not call them “apparently healthy”. They had nothing to sell.

jap-diet-crp

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When it comes to statins, don’t believe the hype

November 20, 2008
The Globe and Mail
André Picard”Cholesterol drug causes risk of heart attack to plummet” – Fox News.

“Cholesterol-fighting drugs show wider benefit” – The New York Times.

“Cholesterol drug cuts heart risk in healthy patients” – The Wall Street Journal.

The New York Times article summarized the exciting news in a front-page story saying that “millions more people could benefit from taking the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins.”

That’s big medical/business news, because statins are already the bestselling drugs in the world, with sales in excess of $20-billion (U.S.).

Quoting some of the world’s top heart researchers, media reports touted the importance of a blood test for C-reactive protein. That’s because those benefiting from statins had high levels of CRP (a marker for inflammation) rather than high levels of LDL cholesterol, which is usually the criterion for statin prescription.

The news stories were based on research published last week in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine and presented, with much fanfare, at the annual convention of the American Heart Association.

Like much reporting on medical research (and drug research in particular), however, there is more (or, more accurately, less) to these stories than meets the eye.

The principal finding in this study was that participants who took a statin pill recorded a 50-per-cent reduction in the risk of heart attack, stroke, surgery and death compared with those who took a placebo (a sugar pill).

Who wouldn’t be wowed by those numbers? Who wouldn’t want that miracle drug?

But the benefits are relative risk reductions.

When you look at the raw data in the study, they reveal that 0.9 per cent of statin users had cardiovascular problems. By comparison, 1.8 per cent of those taking a placebo had heart problems.

There were 17,802 participants in the study, yet there were only 83 cardiac events among statin users, compared with 157 in the placebo group. That’s 50 per cent fewer.

Are those really “dramatic” findings? Do statins really make heart attack risk “plummet”?

According to a cautionary editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine (which received virtually no mention in news reports), 120 people in this study needed to be treated with a statin for two years to see a benefit in one person.

That’s a lot of people taking a pricey drug ($3 Canadian a day) for no benefit – not to mention that there are risks.

While researchers (and journalists who report on studies) love to highlight benefits of drugs, they too often gloss over risks.

Like all drugs, statins have side effects. The drug used in the study, rosuvastatin (brand name Crestor), has been associated with muscle deterioration and kidney problems.

In the study, those taking statins had a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes – 3 per cent compared with 2.4 per cent of those taking a placebo. That’s a 25 per cent higher relative risk among people with very little heart disease to begin with.

As noted earlier, researchers (and news stories) suggested that, based on the findings, the number of patients taking statins could and should expand dramatically.

But is that really what the research tells us, even in its most optimistic interpretation?

The study involved exclusively men older than 50 and women older than 60 who did not have high cholesterol or histories of heart disease or inflammatory illness. All the people in the study needed to have low cholesterol and high CRP.

Initially, researchers recruited 90,000 people in those age groups, but more than 80 per cent of them were deemed ineligible. This is a very select population.

To say, by extrapolation, that these “dramatic” (read: modest) benefits apply to the general population is erroneous.

Similarly, while it is true that about half of all heart attacks and strokes occur in people whose cholesterol is not considered high, does that mean everyone should get a blood test to measure levels of C-reactive protein? Hardly.

Yes, there is more heart disease among people with high levels of CRP, but the jury is still out on what this means.

Some scientists believe that because CRP – secreted in response to inflammation – is present in plaque, it increases the risk that the plaque will burst, leading to blood clots that cause heart attacks. But other researchers think that CRP levels are, at best, a telltale sign of heart disease, a bit like grey hairs are a sign of aging – not its cause.

The CRP test is expensive at almost $50. And it’s worth noting that one of the principal authors of the new research holds the patent on the test and makes money every time it is used.

When you cut through all the hype and the self-interest, what we know is this: Statins reduce levels of [LDL] cholesterol. This is beneficial to people who have had a heart attack or other serious heart problems.

But for otherwise healthy people, high CRP levels or not, the potential benefits of taking statins are marginal, and the risks are not insignificant.

Hardly the stuff of dramatic newspaper headlines.

Posted in atherosclerosis, cardiology, cholesterol, coronary artery disease, death, diabetes, diabetes, Type 2, drugs, junk food, obesity, professionalism, statins, waist circumference | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

“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…

cihi-canada-world-healthcare-cost
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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 »

Dan, the hospital doctor, is shocked, SHOCKED

Posted by Colin Rose on July 30, 2008

This post appeared recently in the ProCOR list.

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As a medical resident I have encountered an interesting case that raises the question of reversibility and education of the pre/early diabetic group.

The case is of a 38-year-old male that presented to a screening physical examination without any complaints apart from the hardships of life. Past medical history is significant for recent diagnosis of hypertension for which he receives a calcium channel blocker. Family history is positive for type 2 diabete with his father, no coronary syndromes in his family, and his lipid profile is unremarkable. Physical exam reveiled an obese young man (BMI of 33) with controlled blood pressure and the rest of the exam was unremarkable. His initial fasting glucose was >200mg% and soon after HbA1c came back as 12. The patient denied any diabetic related symptoms. The patient was very reluctant to start any kind of diabetic regiment and strongly insisted on a sugar free diet and weight reduction only strategy. The patient went home with his own idea of managing his newly diagnosed diabetes. He did not appear for later follow ups.

But we DID meet again, two months afterwards. This time the patient is with a BMI of 27. He explained to me that he was so shocked from the diagnosis. He just started running around the block and eating a very restricted vegetarian diet. His HbA1C was 6 and fasting glucose levels were normal, and he did return to eating sugar containing foods.

Now he insisted he doesn’t have diabetes. Does he? Was he cured? Did he go back to the pre-diabetic phase? Or is he overt diabetic only controlled by diet? Was the decrease in weight that much of an influence? Apperantely so.

Dan Halpern

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As a resident in the usual hospital environment, Dan has probably been taught that diseases can only be treated with drugs and/or surgery. Coincidentally, these are the acts to which doctors have exclusive rights and for which they can charge high fees. He was shocked, SHOCKED to discover that a patient might know how to treat his own disease without the help of the vaunted American “health care” system and that what he had been taught in the hospital has very little relevance to outpatient practice.

Dan has learned a valuable lesson which he should apply to his future practice. Today most of the fatal diseases are diseases of lifestyle and the only definitive treatment is lifestyle change. Blood glucose, blood lipids, blood pressure, etc. are all markers of lifestyle in the vast majority of cases, not diseases to be treated with drugs until lifestyle has been optimized. There is increasing  evidence that some of these markers may actually be protective responses to nutritional stress analogous to a fever in response to an infection. Obviously there are varying genetic predispositions to the effect of self-destructive lifestyles but as they say, genes load the gun, environment pulls the trigger.

So, yes, Dan’s patient did cure himself of Type 2 diabetes and probably hypertension as well. He probably doesn’t need any drugs.

Now if we could only get all doctors to treat lifestyle diseases with lifestyle change before prescribing drug of doing operations we could save hundreds of billions of dollars in disease care costs, close many hospitals, shut down many drug companies and many doctors would have to make a living actually talking to patients. Isn’t that the essence of being a professionial?

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Drug Dealers Bribe Doctors to Prescribe Statins

Posted by Colin Rose on July 9, 2008

Here is a very important post from Dr. Catey Shanahan documenting direct bribes from drug dealers to clinics who can attract more doctors by paying them more as long as they pledge to get every patient’s LDL below 100. Without major dietary change, counseling for which takes a lot of unpaid time of the doctor, this can only be done by prescibing statins, already the most prescribed drugs in the world. When will the physician licensing bodies stop this corruption of the medical profession and forbid any financial connection of practicing doctors with any industry associated with medical practice?

Unlike Dr. Shanahan, I do blame the doctors. This sort of behavior is highly unprofessional. If no doctor went along with this highly unethical practice, contrary to the Hippocratic oath, it wouldn’t exist.

It seems insurance companies are so occupied with getting $zillions from drug dealers that they can’t be bothered to look at the data. Here are some from the ALLHAT-LLT study. In spite of a large reduction in LDL, bad blood cholesterol, there was no effect on mortality or morbidity in this group of very high risk people including diabetics, all of which the insurance company says should be give statins. Where a bar crosses the vertical line there is no significant effect in that sub-group.

And look at the baseline characteristics of the participants in ALLHAT-LLT: all overweight, 43% obese, 23% smoking, 35% diabetic. Is it not highly unethical to perform a drug study for lifestyle diseases in such a group with obviously atherogenic lifestyles BEFORE optimizing the lifestyles of all participants?

Legal Addictions

An ALLHAT-LLT type subject

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Many of the comments on the NYT and other articles on the new recommendations for pediatricians and family doctors to put children on brain-damaging statins are expressing outrange that drug companies are taking over the minds of doctors. Don’t blame doctors. We’re being threatened by insurance companies. If we don’t do exactly what drug companies want, we’ll be paid less. In some cases, some of us might loose our jobs. (OKay, we do deserve some blame for not standing up for ourselves!)

I went for a job interview in Portland and in a conversation with the medical director of a large group there, I was told that if I failed to get my patients LDL levels down to 100 “someone will sit down and talk with you.” This particular group was able to offer a better starting salary than average. I had assumed that the reason they could offer more was through efficiencies. During the interview, I learned there was more to it than that. They had special arrangements with drug companies called ‘incentive programs.’ The medical director told me with absolute glee “we keep asking them [meaning drug companies] for money and they keep giving it to us.” He sounded like a kid at Christmas!

This group’s policy is to get everyone’s LDL under 100, regardless of risk factors. Stratifying risk is “too complicated.” So they make it simple for their docs. How convenient for the drug companies. I suspect that because this organization has such an aggressive general policy, the drug companies reward them handsomely for taking such a progressive position. They can offer about $50,000 more per year than doctors working in their own, independent offices.

HMSA is Hawaii’s largest medical insurance company. They are paying me to prescribe statins to people who have had heart attacks. Next year, they will pay me to prescribe statins to every single one of my diabetic patients. If I don’t I may loose about $20,000 and my entire group will be penalized financially as well.

If any of this disturbs you, please write to John Berthiaume MD, HMSA Vice President/Medical Director. 818 Keeaumoku Street, Honolulu, HI 96814. Or, you can write to the medical director of your own insurance company and let them know what you think about your payments going into programs that force doctors to write bad prescriptions or loose money!

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