Modern medicine has developed striking ways to treat coronary heart disease, which feature coronary stents implanted percutaneously and coronary artery bypass grafts performed surgically with the aid of a heart-lung machine. And then there are statins to lower cholesterol.
Some 43 million Americans take statins. In 2010, 11.6 percent of the population took them, 37 million, which includes 19.2 percent of people age 45-64; 39.6 percent of people age 65-74; and 44.3 percent of people age 75 and older.3 Following the 2013 ACC/AHA guidelines, an additional 10.2 million Americans without cardiovascular disease have now become candidates for statin therapy. One study concludes that 97 percent of black and white Americans age 66 to 75, including all men in that age group, should take statins.
It is a multibillion-dollar business. Pfizer’s Lipitor went on sale in 1997 and became the best-selling drug in the history of prescription pharmaceuticals before its patent expired in 2011. Sales surpassed $125 billion. AstraZeneca’s Crestor was the top-selling statin in 2013, generating $5.2 billion in revenue that year.
Government and the pharmaceutical industry fund these multimillion-dollar studies expecting correct results, so statin trial researchers employ this particular kind of statistical deception to create the appearance that statins are effective and safe. As one medical school professor puts it, “Anyone who questions cholesterol usually finds his funding cut off.”