Criticism of statin drugs

Household Name

What does it take to create a household word?

In the e-Alert “Crashing the Market” (10/20/03) I told you about a new cholesterol-lowering statin drug called Crestor, manufactured by AstraZeneca (AZ). Crestor has only been available in the U.S. for a few weeks now, but the AZ marketing gurus have already managed to start wedging their product into the public consciousness.

In a recent issue of Fortune magazine I found an article weighing the pros and cons of using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to promote heart health. When the subject of statin drugs comes up, two brand names are mentioned as examples: Lipitor and Crestor.

Not bad for rookie product: a high-profile mention beside the Michael Jordan of patent drugs.

Of course, the Fortune article goes on to tick off all the wonderful things that statin drugs are reputed to do; like lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s, diabetes, stroke, maybe even cancer and depression. And the article adds, “as well as heart disease, of course.”

Well, of course!

Unless of course statins don’t actually do any of those things effectively. The full text of all the studies that would question Fortune’s sweeping statement could fill a book the size of the Manhattan Yellow pages.

But I’ll give Fortune credit where it’s due: The article also suggests that before you take any drugs you should lose weight, exercise, and get a dental checkup for gum disease, which can promote inflammation. Nice call, Fortune.

In any case, Fortune has done its small part to help bump Crestor up into the front line of statins. But AZ’s new wonder drug still has a long way to go before it’s a household word.

David Letterman jokes about taking Lipitor. When he starts using Crestor in his punch lines, you’ll know its time has come.

To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson
Health Sciences Institute

Source:

“What Should You Do? If you’re pondering taking anti-
inflammatory drugs like aspirin, here are a few pointers”
David Stipp, Fortune, 10/13/03, fortune.com