Statin drugs recommended for adolescents

Generation Lipitor

Note to Joe Camel: The American Academy of Pediatrics might have a job for you.

R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company retired their controversial pitchman more than 10 years ago. But a friendly cartoon camel could be the perfect helper for parents who have trouble coaxing their child to take his daily Lipitor.

Welcome to what might be one of the darkest days in children’s “health care.”

Kholesterol kids-r-us

In case you haven’t heard the reports this morning, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is today recommending cholesterol screening for kids as young as two if there are weight issues or a family history of heart attacks or high cholesterol.

And if the kids have high cholesterol levels? Don’t hesitate – medicate!

According to the New York Times, the AAP is backed up 100 percent by “proponents.”

NY Times: “Proponents say there is growing evidence that the first signs of heart disease show up in childhood.” And: “For some children, cholesterol-lowering drugs, called statins, may be their best hope of lowering their risk of early heart attack, proponents said.”

Best hope!? Insanity!

Of course, “proponents” is just a fuzzy word for medical mainstreamers who never met a health concern they wouldn’t medicate.

One of those proponents is Dr. Jatinder Bhatia, a member of the AAP nutrition committee, who told the Times: “The risk of giving statins at a lower age is less than the benefit you’re going to get out of it.”

That’s the standout quote that rattled my rafters this morning. Why? Because the evidence to back up that quote is miniscule. And that’s being charitable. And Dr. Bhatia knows it. In fact, after his bold risk/benefit comment, he completely weakened his argument by telling the Times there is not “a whole lot” of data on pediatric use of cholesterol-lowering drugs.

And THAT should have been the leadoff message this morning: Based on not a whole lot of data, the AAP is recommending widespread use of drugs for very young children.

And let’s keep in mind that for adults, who can choose for themselves whether or not to take a certain medication, the benefits haven’t been proven to outweigh the risks. (Sorry, I should clarify that. By benefits, I mean number of lives saved, not pharmaceutical profit margins.)

Please share this special e-Alert with friends and family members who have kids or grandkids. Let them know that this naked attempt to expand the market for statins by exploiting kids is baseless and misguided. Not to mention infuriating!

Sources:
“Lipid Screening and Cardiovascular Health in Childhood” Pediatrics, Vol. 122, No. 1, July 2008, aappolicy.aappublications.org
“Cholesterol Screening is Urged for Young” Tara Parker-Pope, The New York Times, 7/7/08, nytimes.com