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Monday, 4 July 2016

Are patients refusing Statin drugs? Or is the media being silenced?

I have been reporting on the dangers of Statin drugs on this blog for many years. The evidence of the harm they cause is now plentiful, even though doctors continue to tell us they are 'entirely safe', and that 'we should all be taking them'.
Millions of patients throughout the world are now taking them. They are the most profitable pharmaceutical drug sold today, and arguably the most dangerous to patient health.

But now it has been reported that "hundreds of thousands of patients may have stopped taking statins because of widespread media coverage of controversy over the drugs' risks and benefits." This news was reported in the doctors e-magazine, Pulse, 200,000 patients may have quit statins following negative media coverage, on 29th June 2016.

Note well. Patients have stopped taking statins because of negative media coverage, not because of adverse reactions to the drugs!

According to Pulse, the problem started when NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence), in 2013, put forward plans to extend the use of statins as a preventative measure for 'low-risk' patients, claiming that it would prevent thousands of heart attacks and strokes. It was conventional doctors who resisted this recommendation. And it was this disagreement, within the conventional medical establishment, that attracted press attention. Although the media response was limited, and low key, patients began to ask questions.

So is this good news? Can we expect a more reasoned debate, in which patients are (at long last) given information about the serious side effects caused by statin drugs?

It is certainly good news for the 200,000 patients if they have stopped taking the drug. They will now be avoiding the serious side effects the drug is now known to cause. But could this be part of a counter-attack by the pharmaceutical industry, mirroring what happened when patients began to mistrust, and refuse the MMR vaccine in 2003-2004?

First, the Pulse article serious downplays the risks of statin drug, instead focusing on the media reports. It was these reports that have led patients to worry about the potential side effects of the drugs. The reports had 'dented pubic confidence' and they asked for 'better balanced reporting'.

This position was taken by the original study, published in the BMJ, "Impact of Statin related media coverage on the use of Statins". Its conclusion was as follows:

          "A period of intense public discussion over the risks : benefit balance of statins, covered widely in the media, was followed by a transient rise in the proportion of people who stopped taking statins. This research highlights the potential for widely covered health stories in the lay media to impact on healthcare related behaviour."

So it is not the drugs that are being criticised, it is the reporting of the drug side effects that is the issue! The study found that the 'discontinuation rate' fell after the press reporting, but soon returned to normal. One co-author of the BMJ study was reported in Pulse as saying that the reporting "may have given disproportionate weight to a minority view about possible side effects, denting public confidence in a drug which most scientists and health professionals believe to be a safe and effective option against heart disease for the vast majority of patients."

So it is not the drugs that are a matter of concern, it is the media reporting of the drugs on which attention is being focused on.

This is exactly what happened to the MMR vaccine debate. Evidence of the harm this vaccine caused, particularly its relationship with the epidemic of autism, caused take-up rates to fall dramatically. The response was two-fold. First, buy science to prove to parents that there was no connection. Second, attack the media sufficiently to ensure that they do not report on drug side effects.

The first led to corrupt medical scientists falsifying evidence in order to prove that there was no connection between the vaccine and autism. Then, publicise widely that there is no connection between vaccine and autism.

Second, blackmail the press in order to ensure that they stop publishing any information about anything that might suggest a link between the vaccine and the disease.

In this way, patients continue taking the drugs. And the pharmaceutical companies continue to make their profits.

So can we expect a re-run of the MMR vaccine / Autism cover-up? Do we now have to wait for the pharmaceutical industry to fund research that confirms that statin drugs are, indeed, 'entirely safe'?

And then can we expect the media to climb back into their passive, obsequious acceptance of conventional medical orthodoxy? If so, the first person they will have to silence, is Dr Bill Beeby, deputy chair of the GPC clinical prescribing subcommittee, who Pulse reported as saying that the controversy over the risk and benefit "is far from resolved, with large numbers of clinical trials remaining unpublished concealing much of the negative data surrounding their use", and that "doctors who offer the benefits still lack all of the data to quantify the risks to individual patients".

Such honesty is not required within the conventional medical establishment! The medical career of Dr Andrew Wakefield was ruined because he spoke out about the MMR vaccine / Autism link. And if he is not more careful, Dr Beeby is likely to suffer the same fate!

Information that focuses on the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines should not be made available to patients, not even to doctors if at all possible. If patients are informed about the dangers of conventional medical treatment they might decline it. And according to the conventional medical establishment it is good for us, regardless of any evidence to the contrary! And they have to support the pharmaceutical companies, who live and die by patients meekly accepting treatment we are given.