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June 2015

PharmedOut 2015

This HND piece covers the latest edition of PharmedOut—a Georgetown University Medical Center project that advances evidence-based prescribing, and educates healthcare professionals about pharmaceutical marketing practices.

Of the 16 excellent presentations given, we spotlight three of them. while all of them will give you pause, the one we highlight on lousy clinical trials is quite disturbing.

Read the complete article.

Statins: Still overhyped after all these years

In this HND piece, we start with the so-called father of statins, Akira Endo, and quote from his frankly biased article. While his work was fundamental in the development of this best-selling of all time class of pharmaceutical drugs, the real-world benefits of the drugs are minuscule. That is, if you are talking about changing heart disease outcomes. If you are talking about merely lowering serum cholesterol, then, yes, they do "work."

Worse, the side effects—officially played down—can be devastating, and have inspired their own sub-class of junk science.

Cholesterol/coronary heart disease and statins are still the greatest meme in the history of medical science, despite hundreds of studies disproving the entire theory. However, as more patients realize where all those horrible side effects are coming from, the decline could be swift. That, and the fact that patent protection on the last of the statins (Crestor) runs out next year.

Read the complete article.

A look at TENS

This HND piece provides an introduction—with some interesting historical perspective—on the widely-used pain relief technique known as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.

Those classifying TENS as "alternative medicine" are quite misinformed, unless not using drugs is the definition of "alternative." Ironically, TENS dates back to ancient Egypt, with various upgrades along the way to the present—based on contemporary technology.

Perhaps the best thing about TENS is that there are virtually no side effects or dangers, and the patient can self-treat. Home units range in price from $30 to $400, with excellent feature-rich units available for under $300.

Read the complete article.

Cholesterol lowering drugs and memory loss

Talk about drawing the wrong conclusion!   This ridiculous study, already widely touted, and it was just published TODAY, examined memory loss in statin and non-statin drug users.   

Here are the conclusions from the abstract:

Both statin and nonstatin LLDs were strongly associated with acute memory loss in the first 30 days following exposure in users compared with nonusers but not when compared with each other. Thus, either all LLDs cause acute memory loss regardless of drug class or the association is the result of detection bias rather than a causal association.

Here is a quote from the lead author, Brian Strom:

"Either it means that anything that lowers cholesterol has the same effect on short-term memory, which is not scientifically credible because you're dealing with drugs with completely different structures," Strom said." Or, he said, "detection bias" is more likely the reason, meaning patients taking a new drug visit their doctors more frequently and are highly attuned to their health.

Please take a moment to process this...

He admits that all cholesterol-lowering drugs induce memory loss, but that MUST be an artifact, since he tried the experiment with dissimilar drugs.

Oh, and results contrary to the mainstream gospel are always the result of detection bias, because people are just so stupid, right?

25% of the cholesterol in your body is found in your brain, where it plays important roles in such things as membrane function, acts as an antioxidant, and serves as the raw material from which we are able to make things like progesterone, estrogen, cortisol, testosterone and even vitamin D.

In fact, in a recent study available on the NIH Public Access site, researchers showed that in the elderly, the best memory function was observed in those with the highest levels of cholesterol. Low cholesterol is associated with an increased risk for depression and even death. (courtesy David Perlmutter, MD)

This is really the worst kind of junk science because he does the right experiment with the right controls, and DRAWS THE WRONG CONCLUSIONS.

Needless to say, this work was done in a pathetic effort to undermine claims by millions of statin users that they have memory loss.    Nice try, you woeful, mercenary, Kool-Aid drinking mountebank.

It's come to this: Risk factors protect against risk

Check out this author's summary:

An elevated triglyceride level is generally considered a risk factor for the development of type-2 diabetes. However, recent studies suggest, somewhat paradoxically, that genetic risk for elevated triglycerides may protect against type-2 diabetes.

Our findings across studies, racial groups, and statistical models consistently demonstrate that triglyceride-increasing alleles are associated with decreased type-2 diabetes incidence. These genes therefore appear to both increase triglyceride levels and decrease type-2 diabetes risk. More work is needed (ed. note but of course) to understand the physiological mechanism underlying these findings, and to determine the causal relationship between triglycerides and type-2 diabetes.

Pernicious low tech issues in healthcare

This HND piece first notes that some answers to fixing health care lie outside the sexy world of high tech. More than that, the mindless embrace of high tech has caused more than its share of disasters.

In this context, "low tech" includes rapacious greed—responsible for all kinds of ill-fated drug roll-outs. Believe it or not, details are still emerging from the Thalidomide tragedy of the early 1960s. While we don't cover that catastrophe in this piece, there is plenty of harm, although not as sensationalized, caused by the drugs we do discuss.

And, for good measure, we segue into our friend Peter Gøtzsche's continuing problems with Big Pharma and its shills.

Read the complete article.