HAS the death knell of statins finally sounded? I am probably going out on a very big limb when I say: “Here’s hoping. It’s not a moment too soon. If anyone can sound it, world-renowned British consultant cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra can.” Heart disease is, after all, not caused by a deficiency of statins.
By Marika Sboros
World-renowned consultant cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra is back in Britain after a whistle-stop, sell-out lecture tour of Australia, aptly titled Bring Back The Fat. In it, Malhotra took his usual precision scalpel to eviscerate the …powerful vested interests behind blockbuster cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins.
Malhotra carefully dissected the controversy that has rightly dogged the medical footsteps of these drugs. Statins have made billions for pharmaceutical companies and millions for the doctors who still dish them out like smarties. For many patients they have made no different whatsoever, and may even have done harm.
He has once again exposed terminal weaknesses behind the startling (some would say shocking) recommendation by the UK guideline body, National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) that most people, if not everyone, over 50 should be on statins.
It’s as if NICE (a name now heavily laced with irony) believes that heart disease is caused by a deficiency of statins.
A good read: STATINS: MAD, BAD WORLD OF CHOLESTEROL DRUGS
By way of evidence, Malhotra referred in a lecture to an open letter to Britain’s Prime Minister and Health Secretary in 2014, which he co-authored with Sir Richard Thompson, then president of the Royal College of Physicians, and other top doctors, and which was published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal).
In it, the authors object vigorously to the NICE guidelines saying inter alia that: the guidelines are based on industry-funded data; they take no account of the severe side-effect profile of statins that in many cases outweighs any benefits; and some of the doctors who drew up the guidelines have direct ties to pharmaceutical companies who make statins.
If that were not bad enough, the authors point out that the NICE guidelines ignore independent data showing that otherwise healthy people have no mortality benefit whatsoever from taking statins – in other words, they don’t live even one day longer thanks to taking drugs that have serious side effects.
You’d think that would have been enough to stop NICE in its statin-supporting (some doctors call it “statin-insanity”) tracks, and that the doctors who drew up those guidelines at least to have second thoughts and temper the guidelines with a modicum of restraint. Not a bit of it. They simply did what doctors in the thrall of vested interests tend to do: reacted angrily and defensively in support of the statin guideline status quo.
Malhotra pointed to a re-analysis of industry-funded data in January 2016 by respected French cardiologist and independent researcher Dr Michel de Lorgeril of Grenoble University.
De Lorgeril concluded that data from the industry-funded trials “cannot be trusted” (they very seldom can, for obvious reasons of bias and interest). He went further and declared that he would “warn people not to take statins”.
Malhotra told his audience he’s “not going that far”, but De Lorgeril makes a “very compelling case”.
Malhotra also pointed to attempts by Australian vested interests in pharmaceutical and medical industries to discredit the work of Australian Dr Maryanne Demasi on statins.
Demasi is a scientist and science journalist who did a pioneering two-part documentary series exposing the soft underbelly of the statin industry and doctors who collude with it for ABC’s Catalyst programme.
ABC aired both episodes. However, the network later bowed to pressure to remove the videos from their website, claiming a breach of its “impartiality standards”.
It’s not clear precisely from where that pressure came, but an educated guess isn’t likely to miss the target. The videos went viral outside Australia. Click here to view Demasi’s Heart of the Matter: The Cholesterol Myth: Dietary Villains and Cholesterol Drug War Part 1 and Part 2.
In a study published in the Australian Medical Journal last year, researchers claimed that up to 2,900 people may have died of a heart attack as a result of not taking their statin medication after Demasi’s documentary aired.
Malhotra said there was “not a single shred of scientific evidence” to back up that claim.
On the contrary, many doctors said Demasi had “opened their eyes” to the very real risks associated with statins, she was “inspirational”, and should be commended for her bravery in taking on the vested interests, Malhotra said.
Below is a video clip of Malhotra’s presentation on a leg of his Bring Back The Fat tour. It makes riveting listening and reading. The tour was organised by Australian nutrition specialist and author Christine Cronau.