It’s all too familiar. And completely exasperating.
You take a panel of government experts. Many have deep ties to drug companies. You put them in a conference room. Presto! Out comes a new recommendation. And it just happens to be a gift-wrapped bonanza for drug companies.
So let’s fill in the blanks.
The expert panel is from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Check.
Most of the members have deep ties to drug companies. Check.
And they produced this recommendation… Doctors should screen all children between the ages of 9 and 11 for high cholesterol.
Sad but true… And disturbing. And infuriating! Check.
Going overboard with overtreatment
There has been a LITTLE bit of pushback to this recommendation. That’s because high cholesterol in kids often levels off to normal. No intervention necessary.
But that’s of no concern to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The AAP immediately endorsed the new recommendation. So with that seal of approval, 4th graders across the land will be rolling up their sleeves for blood tests.
And when the results are in — what then? Do you suppose doctors will recommend a cholesterol-lowering statin drug? And by any chance will drug company reps constantly whisper that idea in doctors’ ears?
Well, not to worry! The chair of the NHLBI panel offered this comforting prediction… “I don’t think it’s likely that there will be overtreatment.”
Are you kidding me? We’re talking about high cholesterol. It’s the most overtreated health condition in history. Can he actually think there won’t be overtreatment?
In any case, I have no doubt he IS aware that the European Union recently approved a chewable statin drug for children. With the AAP’s embrace of the new screening guideline, can the FDA approval of a chewable statin be far behind?
And if they make them in shapes (like an Xbox or a Justin Bieber profile), every 11-year-old will gobble them up.
“Expert Panel on Integrated Guidelines for Cardiovascular Health and Risk Reduction in Children and Adolescents: Summary Report” Pediatrics, Vol. 128, Supp. 5, December 2011, pediatrics.aappublications.org
“Now Children Need Cholesterol Tests, Too” Nancy Shute, NPR, 11/11/11, npr.org