Monday, August 11, 2014

Pfizer, Lipitor, and Diabetes (The Market Ticker Karl Denninger)


I find this particular version of lawsuit lottery amusing.

(Reuters) - Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is facing a mounting wave of lawsuits by women who allege that the company knew about possible serious side effects of its blockbuster anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor but never properly warned the public.

In the past five months, a Reuters review of federal court filings shows, lawsuits by U.S. women who say that taking Lipitor gave them type-2 diabetes have shot up from 56 to almost 1,000.

Yes, blockbuster.  As in blockbuster profits.

There's a basic problem with the premise though: The lipid hypothesis, which is the predicate upon which all "cholesterol modification" therapies, including these drugs, rest is at best questionable and is likely nothing more than quackery.

The hypothesis arose from a single researcher named Ancel Keys; he published a claimed "Seven Countries Study" that allegedly showed that cardiovascular disease was caused by high serum (that is, blood) cholesterol levels and that was caused by eating a high-fat diet.

Keys, it is now known, preferentially selected data that showed what he wanted to show up front and ignored everything else.  Worse, there was no primary research either before his "study" nor was any conducted to validate his claims after it was published.

Indeed, when the full data set (not just his "seven") is re-analyzed -- all data that Keys had access to and intentionally ignored -- the correlation he claimed disappears.

In the interim, however, you've been told to eat less (or no!) saturated (animal) fats and eat lots of plant-based fats ("polyunsaturated".)  Since there are only three forms of food -- carbohydrate, protein and fat, if you eat less fat you must eat more of either protein or carbohydrate.  Very large amounts of protein are both extremely expensive and known to be tough on the kidneys, so the shift was obvious -- toward carbohydrates.  The agricultural lobby pressed for and furthered this and then added on to it extremely cheap sweeteners such as high-fructose corn syrup.  You see, when you remove fat from food it tends to taste like cardboard, so sugar in its various forms was substituted.

The government published its guidelines and your doctor chided and cajoled you to eat this way.  Advertising claiming that this or that was part of a good breakfast (and similar) has promoted this "lifestyle."

What did you get for it?  Diabetes and obesity, to name two undesirable things.

You also got a monstrous industry selling you pills to "lower" your cholesterol and guys and dolls in white coats steering you toward being both fat and dead while at the same time believing you're lying to them when in fact you're doing exactly what they told you to do when it comes to what you eat.

Companies like Pfizer love conditions like "high cholesterol" because they never go away.  You wind up on a statin and you'll be taking it for life, if you believe your doctor and the big pharma interests.  Nobody asks how in the hell anyone managed to survive before these drugs existed, or why they suddenly are necessary where they weren't before.

Rather than change what you eat you pop a pill.  But that doesn't change the obesity problem (at all) and while it might lower your cholesterol if that's not actually causing disease why in the hell would you want to do that?  Other than fattening the wallet of a pharmaceutical company, that is.  Remember that there is no such thing as a drug without side effects -- that is, risk.

So what risk did you take and for what improvement?  If the improvement is nil then any amount of risk is unwarranted and inappropriate since there is nothing to be gained!

1 in 10 Americans (approximately) are on Lipitor.  Do you actually believe that 1 in 10 people needs a permanent, life-long treatment that has racked up $130 billion in sales globally over the last 20 or so years? 

Again, how in the hell did we survive the previous thousands of years without it, if that's so?

Yes, I know that Pfizer claims that the "overwhelming consensus" in the medical community is that statins have benefits.  But there has been 50 years of overwhelming consensus about the lipid hypothesis in general and yet we now factually know both that it came about due to cherry-picking data and when re-evaluated using the full data set the claimed correlations disappeared.

In other words we know the overwhelming consensus upon which the entire paradigm of "lipid avoidance" has been based is factually wrong.

I don't know if Lipitor causes diabetes.  But what I do know by the manifest weight of the evidence is that being obese has a high correlation with development of the disease, and that the epidemic of obesity is well-correlated with the "medical advice" to avoid fats in one's diet and load up on the carbs.

I can also tell you from personal experience that ignoring that advice, eschewing carbohydrates and eating a high-fat, moderate protein and low-carb diet dropped 60 lbs off my body, and since I was at the same time tracking my caloric consumption due to exercise (by wearing a GPS-enabled watch and heart-rate strap while working out) I could only account for 20 of those pounds in the number of calories that I burned.  The other 40 therefore had to have come off as a direct and proximate result of changing what I put down my pie hole.  And no, you don't have to eat carbs to be able to perform athletically either.  I do just fine running 5ks and biking for ****s and grins without any carbohydrate input.

Further and at least as important, it is now 2014 and I began this program in the spring of 2011.  The weight loss was complete by the end of that year and it tapered off all on its own without any attempt to do so as my body, most-notably my belly, approached a "normal" appearance.  I was told repeatedly during that time that while I might lose weight eating low carb it would all come back and probably with interest besides.

Well, it's now coming up on three years hence and I still weigh between 150-155, depending on exactly when I step on the scale.  I do not count calories, I have maintained the change in what (not how much) I eat, and my weight has been stable the entire time despite wide variations in my workout schedule (go figure; I don't really enjoy doing long, strenuous runs in 95 degree heat with 100% RH readings nor do I like it when it's freezing-ass cold out either.)  Further, my glucose response and blood pressure are both normal and I can see my dick in the shower when standing straight up -- without having to suck in my gut.

I take no prescription medications of any sort and I've more than a half-century of years under my belt.

The plural of anecdote is not data, but my read of the literature strongly suggests that the entire statin industry was manufactured out of whole cloth predicated on what is now known to be a discredited hypothesis.

That, standing alone, ought to be enough for liability to attach when hundreds of billions of dollars have been siphoned off through what is now known to have been intentionally-doctored results -- that is, utter and complete bull****.

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