Resolving the Statins Controversy
WHAT IS THE ARGUMENT ABOUT?
The pharmaceutical companies, the health service agencies such as the NHS, the British heart foundation (BHF) and everyone who is at risk of heart disease to take statitns. Seven million members of the public are already taking them and they say many more should be doing so.
Why do they want us to take them: to reduce our chance of having a major cardiovascular event such as a fatal or non-fatal heart attack or stroke or of needing treatment for cardiovascular disease such as by-pass surgery or a stent implant.
How will statins reduce my chance of having a major vascular event? The pharmaceutical industries (let’s call them ‘big pharma’) and the health care bodies (let’s call them ‘big health’) believe-or at least say they believe-that having lots of cholesterol in your blood increases your risk of having heart disease. As statins reduce the amount of statins in your blood they say that lowering your cholesterol with statins reduces your chance of dying from a fatal heart attack or suffering for years from the effects of heart disease or stroke.
That sounds great but how do big pharma and members of the public health know that statins work in reducing heart disease? Over the years big pharma has spent huge sums of money to have medical experts carry out clinical trials. These trials are called double blind randomised placebo controlled trials and they are considered by experts to be the best way of finding out whether or not a new drug is effective (i.e. if it works) and whether or not it is safe which means that it is free of harmful side effects which would make it unsafe to give to large numbers of people.