Murderous Fraud

As we Americans haplessly continue to search for a way to bring human decency — a.k.a. public non-profit “single-payer” universal coverage, a.k.a. actual insurance — to health insurance, we remain miles from raising the next obvious topic: the extreme underlying conflict between money-making and medical practice.

The latest evidence of this un-discussed elephant-in-the-room lies in today’s New York Times, and involves our old friend, Vytorin:

When the Food and Drug Administration approved a new type of cholesterol-lowering medicine in 2002, it did so on the basis of a handful of clinical trials covering a total of 3,900 patients. None of the patients took the medicine for more than 12 weeks, and the trials offered no evidence that it had reduced heart attacks or cardiovascular disease, the goal of any cholesterol drug.

The lack of evidence has not stopped doctors from heavily prescribing that drug, whether in a stand-alone form sold as Zetia or as a combination medicine called Vytorin. Aided by extensive consumer advertising, sales of the medicines reached $5.2 billion last year, making them among the best-selling drugs in the world. More than three million people worldwide take either drug every day.

But there is still no proof that the drugs help patients live longer or avoid heart attacks. This year Vytorin has failed two clinical trials meant to show its benefits. Worse, scientists are debating whether there is a link between the drugs and cancer.

Researchers reported last month that patients in three clinical trials had a 40 percent higher chance of dying from cancer if they took Vytorin instead of a sugar pill or another medicine, although the leader of that study says the finding might be due to chance.

Now some prominent cardiologists say that the evidence has swung so decisively against the drugs that they should not be sold. “The only place people should be taking it is in a clinical trial,” Dr. Allen J. Taylor of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center said of Zetia. (Vytorin is a single pill that combines Zetia with a statin, an older form of cholesterol-lowering medicine whose effectiveness and safety are not in question.)

Merck and Schering-Plough, which jointly make Vytorin and Zetia, strongly defend their medicines. The companies say that ezetimibe, the generic name for Zetia, showed no cancer risk in animal trials and argue that the cancer finding is probably a result of chance.

Just a few issues there, no?

The response? None. The market simply cannot be interfered with. The people need their only-possibly cancer-causing worse-than-placebos. Clearly, public enterprise could never achieve such superb results!

4 Replies to “Murderous Fraud”

  1. Thanks for the link very interesting. In response to ” Murderous Fraud” i have recently had it with Doctors prescribing a pill and the unnessary tests because i do have insurance. If i did not i wouldnt even be seen by these same doctors . i should be thankful but the bottom line is they are not trying to get you better they what to be sicker and more dependent on drugs and precedures that do nothing but cost money.

  2. I hadn’t seen that, Dermo. Thanks.

    The use of pseudo-science is, of course, one of the core methods of big business marketing. Whenever you hear numbers being mentioned in an ad, for instance, you know they are bogus and/or misleading.

    “15 minutes could save you up to 15 percent.”

  3. Reason why Nader does not attack capitalism…

    1.Too dedicated to trhe system. Believes it can be politically contained.

    2. Foes not have an understanmding of the requisities of a genuinie democracy in all matters that affect our lives.., namely government and our work places.

    3.Is aware of the stated website but cannot overcome his capitalist orientation, like the Pope…It’s OK so ling as workers have “some” share in its values produced…

    4. Keep up yout fine wiork to alert our working class citizen majority tio the system’s failures. Now our electorate needs a program to offer a rational alternative. Check out the site. Your reactions are welcome.

    Wally P.

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