By Duane Graveline, M.D., M.P.H.
My purpose in the choice of this title is to draw attention to the thousands of statin damaged people who have written to me about their disabling neuropathies, myopathies and a variety of neurodegenerative conditions such as ALS and Parkinsonism associated with statin use.
But the crisis is far more than this for with the billion-dollar statin drug industry, physicians are rapidly losing the confidence of their patients. The so-called doctor / patient bond has never been stretched so thin.
Denying statin causality despite obvious links and often despite the drug company warnings on the package inserts have caused much grief. The use of statin drugs in diabetics despite drug company warnings of increased peripheral neuropathy is but one example of medicine gone wrong.
The thousands of complaints from patients suffering from aches and pains, fatigue and weakness, casually dismissed as, "You've got to expect this now you are over fifty" is another very common example of medicine gone wrong.
Many doctors are so out of touch with the reality of statin side effects they cannot counsel rationally. They know only what was told to them 15 years ago, "Statins may cause a few aches and pains or liver irritation that goes away when the dose is lowered." That is all they know.
Of the thousands of post-marketing Medwatch Adverse Drug Reactions ( ADRs ) they largely know nothing. I have personally documented that thousands of amnesia episodes reported via Medwatch to the FDA, remain unreported to the medical community and the average doctor is shocked in disbelief when told the truth. This is a major crisis.
Another crisis is the growing tendency of the insurance industry to use cholesterol levels as a reason to deny health care coverage or life insurance coverage. Some employers even require cholesterol levels to be below a certain number as a condition of employment. Or the crisis of patients being forced into taking a statin because not to do so would result in having to find a new doctor. This outmoded concept is based on Framingham data of 40 years ago and cholesterol numbers are increasingly being dismissed as a cardiovascular disease risk factor. Cholesterol level appears irrelevant to the process of atherosclerosis.
Two generations of physicians have been brainwashed with the cholesterol concept of heart attack risk championed by Ancel Keys and his manipulated data. Statin drugs apparently work not by cholesterol reduction but by anti-inflammation. Only recently have we known this. The wheels grind slowly in these agencies and returning truth and reason to these large administrative structures will take much time.
Another crisis, a crisis of confidence, exists for many physicians who follow cholesterol lowering guidelines yet are stunned to find out that most of the people who write these guidelines are in the direct employ of the drug companies. Which is the greater statin damage crisis - the physician who prescribed the statin drug in ignorance of potential side effects or the physician who prescribes the statin drug with full awareness of the potential for consequences?
Or the crisis of thousands of people disabled by statin associated neuro-muscular problems while thousands of physicians still remain unaware that statins can do this.
Duane Graveline MD MPH
Former USAF Flight Surgeon
Former NASA Astronaut
Retired Family Doctor