Is the media swimming around the real threat to your health?

Nearly three decades ago, an undercurrent of fear was felt through the nation. “Jaws” was in theatres and, thanks to what were amazing special effects at the time, it seemed too real to ignore. I even remember reports about how empty the beaches were.

This summer, the threat has resurfaced, but this time, it’s for real. You can’t turn on the TV these days or read the paper without hearing about the deadly danger of a shark attack. This morning The Today Show reported that there have been 41 shark attacks in the U.S. this year three of which were fatal.

And people all seem baffled, assuming there is some mysterious reason that the sharks are suddenly out to get us. They’re calling in experts to talk about feeding and swimming patterns, looking at how far they are from shore, what time of day they appear, etc.

But is this really a new phenomenon? Or, is it just that the media has decided to make it this year’s summer blockbuster?

I can’t help but wonder

First, consider this surprising bit of information: The number of attacks is deemed by experts to be completely normal for the season, and it’s actually down from last year.

Now consider this: So far this summer, there have been 41 shark attacks in the U.S. from which 3 people died. Yet, 31 people have died in the U.S. taking the statin drug Baycol – 10 times more than have died in these shark attacks.

So, while people are fleeing the beaches once again, countless patients are still taking statin drugs (among other types of cholesterol-lowering drugs) everyday -potentially risking their lives. But have you heard Katie Couric warning us about that every morning? I haven’t heard a second mention in the popular press since I first heard the story on a cable news show a few weeks ago.

And that’s not all. While Katie, Matt and the rest of the mainstream media are effectively ignoring the statin story, the pharmaceutical companies’ PR machines are working overtime to keep people believing the drugs are safe. Since Bayer pulled Baycol voluntarily, as we reported in the August 9th e-Alert, Bristol-Myers Squibb took out full-page ads in the New York Times, USA Today, and the Philadelphia Inquirer offering a free one-month supply of their drug, Pravachol. Likewise, pharmaceutical giant Merck ran a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal wooing former Baycol users over to their drug, Zocor.

Talk about sharks circling

But that’s to be expected from the big drug companies. Why the imbalance in news coverage?

One theory, of course, is ratings. The shock value and human-interest focus of the shark attacks is much “sexier” by TV standards than the risk of death by a cholesterol-lowering drug.

But that’s only part of it. The other part is the bottom line. Imagine if Bayer had a nationwide aspirin commercial scheduled to run during the Evening News at a price of let’s just say $300,000. Now imagine their marketing director’s reaction if the lead story were the number of deaths caused by Baycol. Do you think they would pay that bill? At the very least, I’d think they’d take their millions in advertising dollars elsewhere.

The mainstream media outlets can’t afford to bite the hand that’s feeding themso too often important stories like these are either ignored or downplayed.

Now I’m not saying that no one has covered the on-going saga. But the concentration has been terribly weak and the fact that other companies are continuing to aggressively push their statin drugs as substitutes has been completely ignored.

That’s one reason we’re so pleased we’ve been able to bring you this free e-Alert service. It allows us to talk to you about issues that the media are ignoring but that we wouldn’t normally cover in your monthly Members Alert (or that wouldn’t be as timely once you received it).

In recent e-Alerts and in your new member bonus reports, we’ve told you about tocotrienol vitamin E, a natural, safe alternative to help manage your cholesterol level. Please make sure you pass on this information regarding the dangers associated with statin drugs and other cholesterol-lowering drugs to any friends or family members you think may be at risk.