Lipitor

  1. Feds finally own up to statin risks

    Not long ago, those of us who pointed out that cholesterol meds can actually cause diabetes and other serious health problems were dismissed as alarmists.

    Statins, we were told, are so safe they should be given to practically everyone – with some "experts" even pushing to give them out with every Big Mac. (That might sound like something I made up for an easy laugh – but believe it or not, it's actually true.)

    Well, maybe now the push to give everyone statins will start to slow a bit: The FDA has finally admitted that all those side effects the drug industry and its paid--for experts once brushed off are actually very real.

    And now, they want the labels of these meds changed to reflect the increased risk of diabetes, confusion, memory loss, and serious muscle pain.

    The feds say those side effects can hit anyone at anytime. They can strike after a single day on these meds...or they can come on after years of taking them without incident.

    And they can happen to everyone across all age groups.

    So who's the alarmist now?

    Of course, I can't help but find it a little suspicious that this warning comes only after every Big Pharma statin except for one – Crestor – lost its patent protection, with Lipitor going generic just a few months ago.

    It's almost as if the feds were giving their drug company friends a chance to maximize profits before issuing the same warning those of us in natural health delivered years ago.

    But even worse than the risks and the delayed warning is the fact that no one ever needed these meds in the first place.

    In many cases, people taking statins don't even have a cholesterol problem since mainstream LDL targets are set unrealistically low. And even when cholesterol does shoot up to high levels, taking a drug to "cure" it is akin to Homer Simpson putting a piece of tape over the "check engine" light on his car.

    Super high cholesterol is a warning that something's wrong – and lowering it without fixing the underlying issue won't make you healthier any more than that piece of tape will fix Homer's engine.

    If your own levels start climbing too high for comfort, work on lifestyle changes first. Cutting out sugars and sticking to fresh foods will almost always bring cholesterol to where it needs to be.

    If they're still high, don't visit a statin-slinging mainstream doc. Visit a naturopathic physician who can find and fix the real cause without meds.

    And for one easy way to lower your cholesterol naturally, keep reading.

  2. Statins for the masses

    Pfizer is getting ready to take a multibillion-dollar loss this fall when it loses patent protection on the best-selling drug of all time. But don't expect them to sit back and watch Lipitor's $11 billion a year in sales go down the drain. The Wall Street Journal says the company is hatching a plan to have its cholesterol-lowering drug sold over the counter.

    And if they get their way, you can bet it won't just be sold in pharmacies anymore. I'm thinking 7-11, McDonald's, and Dunkin Donuts, for starters, where Lipitor can be billed as the antidote to cholesterol-laden convenience foods.

    That's not nearly as far-fetched as it sounds. Some researchers have already proposed doing exactly that. (Read about it here.)

    But if there's anything as bad for you as a fast food meal on your plate, it's a statin in your body. I don't care what you've been told. These drugs are bad news.

    Along with the notorious risk of muscle weakness and debilitating pain, statins have also been linked to kidney failure, liver damage, cataracts, joint and tendon problems, sexual issues, and even an increased risk of diabetes.

    That's right... a drug that's supposed to keep a supposed risk factor for diabetes in check -- cholesterol -- can actually help bring the disease on.

    Here's a better plan: Skip the fast food and skip the statins. Basic lifestyle changes can do a much better job of keeping cholesterol levels under control anyway.

    The one bit of good news here is that Big Pharma is 0-for-2 when it comes to getting statins approved for over-the-counter sales. Merck's plan for OTC Mevacor was rejected by the feds at least three times, along with Bristol-Myers Squibb's bid for nonprescription Pravachol.

    Normally, I spend a lot of time ripping FDA decisions -- and, let's face it, there's a lot to rip. But in this case, the agency has managed to get it right -- and they've already put Pfizer on notice that the bar for over-the-counter Lipitor has been set pretty high.

    "They would have to provide data to show that consumers understand the treatment and recognize that cholesterol-monitoring is required," FDA spokeswoman Shelly Burgess told Bloomberg News.

    That's not going to be easy, because Burgess quickly added that previous studies have shown that patients don't get it.

    "Most study participants made mistakes and chose to take the proposed over-the-counter statin when they should not have done that," she was quoted as saying.

    On the other hand, statins such as Zocor are already available over the counter in the U.K. -- so maybe it's only a matter of time before the FDA follows suit.

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