Cholesterol :: Cholesterol drugs, statins, Lipitor over-prescribed – The Lancet

Award-winning physician John Abramson argues that clinical trials provide no evidence of lowering cholesterol in women and elderly.

An article published today in one of the leading medical journals claims that anti-cholesterol drugs are over-prescribed and could spell big trouble for pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, maker of industry-leading medication Lipitor.

The article, co-authored by Harvard Medical School clinical instructor John Abramson, appeared in the January_20th edition of The Lancet medical journal, and shows that clinical trials for coronary heart disease prevention fail to prove that anti-cholesterol drugs, such as Lipitor, provide benefit for many in the U.S. who are taking them.

If the medical community accepts Abramson’s conclusions, it could negatively impact sales for drugs such as Lipitor.

Dr. Abramson and co-author Dr. Jim Wright of the Therapeutics Initiative in British Columbia say that statins, a class of cholesterol-lowering drugs, should not be prescribed for the primary prevention of heart disease to women of all ages or to men older than 69 years of age.

According to Abramson, the article titled “Are Lipid-Lowering Guidelines Evidence-Based?” shows that no studies have shown statin drugs to be effective for women and men 69 years of age or older who do not already have heart disease or diabetes. It also suggests that U.S. cholesterol treatment guidelines should be revised, taking in to consideration the lack of evidence that such drugs are beneficial to many Americans.

“The displacement of effective approaches to preserving our overall health is an enormous national scandal,” said Abramson. “Americans are being misled about what the scientific evidence really shows.”

Lipitor is the best-selling drug in the world, with sales in 2004 of more than $10 billion.

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