Thursday, June 12, 2014

The statin craze is slowly unwinding

Statins (atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Mevacor, Altocor), pitavastatin (Livalo), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and simvastatin (Zocor)) are supposed to lower blood lipids and thus prevent heart attacks.  For currently healthy people however their benefits are dubious and the side-effects can be severe.  The side-effects can mimic Alzheimers so the recent upsurge in Alzheimers could be entirely due to the fashion of handing out statins like peanuts

Millions of healthy Britons are about to be given statins needlessly and exposed to debilitating side effects which include muscle pain and diabetes, leading doctors warn.

They say NHS proposals to radically increase the uptake of the drugs are a ‘public health disaster’ that will cause harm to many patients.

The group – which includes cardiologists, and senior GPs – is urging the government and the NHS drugs watchdog NICE to halt the plans. They also claim that eight of the 12-strong panel of experts who are drawing up the guidelines have financial links to drugs firms making statins – which stand to make a profit.

About seven million patients in Britain take statins to lower the cholesterol in their blood to prevent heart attacks and strokes. They are predominantly given to over-65s who have been diagnosed with heart disease or have a high risk of developing it based on their family history or lifestyle.

But in February, NICE – National Institute for Health and Care Excellence – published draft guidance advising GPs to prescribe statins to anyone with a 10 per cent risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke within the next decade. It claims this could save many lives at a minimum cost to the NHS as the drugs cost as little as 10p each.

Experts say this would lead to the drugs being given to between five and ten million additional patients.

NICE will publish its final guidelines next month.

But the group of doctors say there is no evidence that giving statins to healthy people increases their life expectancy.

On the contrary, they point to evidence showing they increased the risk of diabetes in middle-aged women by 48 per cent and cause fatigue and muscle pain.

The group also accuse NICE of looking only at evidence about benefits and possible side effects of statins that have been provided by drugs firms, which could be biased.

The leading doctors also argue that rather than prescribing statins, the NHS should be encouraging patients to lose weight and take more exercise.

In a letter to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and NICE, they wrote: ‘The consequences of not withdrawing this guidance are worrying: harm to many patients over many years, and the loss of public and professional faith in NICE as an independent assessor.

‘Public interests need always to be put before other interests, particularly pharma [the drugs industry].’

Professor Simon Capewell,  professor of clinical epidemiology at the University of Liverpool,  one of the doctors against the move, said: ‘The statin recommendations are deeply worrying,  condemning all middle-aged adults to lifelong medications of questionable value.’

Dr Malcolm Kendrick,  a GP  and member of the BMA General Practitioners sub-committee, who is also a member of the group said: ‘Who knew that millions of people  in the UK now suffer from statin  deficiency syndrome? Mass statination is a triumph of statistics over common sense.

‘Treating millions at a cost of billions based on data we are not allowed to see is an example of the corporatisation of medicine and will result in a public health disaster.’

And Dr David Newman, director of clinical research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, said: ‘For most people at low risk  of cardiovascular disease, a statin will give them diabetes as often as it will prevent a non-fatal heart attack.’

In response, Professor Mark Baker, director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE, said: ‘Cardiovascular disease maims and kills people through coronary heart disease, peripheral arterial disease and stroke. Together, these kill one in three of us. Our proposals are intended to prevent many lives being destroyed.’



Libertarians Versus Conservatives

John Stossel

Both libertarians and conservatives want to keep America safe. We differ on how best to do that. Most libertarians believe our attempts to create or support democracy around the world have made us new enemies, and done harm as well as good. We want less military spending.

Some conservatives respond to that by calling us isolationists, but we're not. I want to participate in the world; I just don't want to run it. I'm glad Americans trade with other countries -- trade both goods and people. It's great we sell foreigners our music, movies, ideas, etc. And through dealing with them, we also learn from what they do best.

On my TV show this week, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton will tell me why my libertarian skepticism about the importance of a "strong military presence" is "completely irrelevant to foreign policy decision-making."

Bolton thinks it's dangerous and provocative for America to appear militarily weak. He supported the Iraq War and says that if Iran were close to getting nuclear weapons, the U.S should attack. "I will go to my grave trying to prevent every new country we can find from getting nuclear weapons," because if they do, "it's going to be a very dangerous world."

He criticizes Presidents Barack Obama's and George W. Bush's failed attempts at negotiation with Iran, "negotiation based on the delusion from the get-go that Iran was ever serious about potentially giving up its nuclear weapon program."

That kind of talk makes Bolton sound like a hard-headed realist. Who wants to be naive like Bush or Obama? But hawks like Bolton ignore parts of reality, too.

They are quick and correct to point out the danger of Iran going nuclear. They are not as quick to talk about the fact that Iran has a population three times the size of Iraq's -- and the Iraq War wasn't as smooth or short as then-Vice President Dick Cheney and others assured us it would be.

If it's realistic to acknowledge that America has dangerous enemies, it's also realistic to acknowledge that going to war is not always worth the loss of money and lives, and that it makes new enemies. War, like most government plans, tends not to work out as well as planners hoped.

I asked Bolton if he thought the Vietnam War was a good intervention. "Obviously, the way it played out, it was not," he said, but, "it's always easy after the fact to second-guess."

Bolton also acknowledges that the Iraq War did not go well, but then adds, "Where mistakes were made was after the military campaign." The U.S. was unprepared for the civil war that broke out. The U.S. also failed to turn utilities and other state-run companies in Iraq over to the private sector, maintaining poorly run monopolies on energy production and other essential services, often squandering billions of dollars.

It might be seen as a harsh lesson in the importance of planning for the aftermath of toppling a bad regime. But we libertarians wonder: Why assume government will do better next time?

Occasionally government acknowledges mistakes in domestic policy -- but that doesn't mean it then becomes more efficient. It usually just spends more to try, and fail, to fix the problem. It's the nature of government. Politicians don't face the competitive incentives that force other people to make hard decisions.

Candidate Obama garnered support by criticizing Bush for costing money and lives through a protracted stay in Iraq. But that didn't stop Obama from putting more money and troops into Afghanistan.

In his first term alone, Obama spent about three times as much in Afghanistan as Bush did in two terms. Did we win hearts and minds? I don't think so. The Taliban may still retake the country.

Our military should be used for defense, not to police the world.



A new tea party victory in VA -- for economist Dave Brat

Eric Cantor Loses Primary to Unheralded, Under-funded Tea Party Challenger

Wasserman calls it the "biggest House upset" he's ever seen. Elections expert Sean Trende pronounces himself speechless. Team Cantor is likely as stunned as anyone else:

One recent poll showed a potential tightening of the race, but with Cantor still ahead by double digits. And yet...the sitting House Majority Leader got blown out in a race everyone expected him to win comfortably.

Here's why:

    "Brat has exposed discontent with Cantor in the solidly Republican, suburban Richmond 7th Congressional District by attacking the lawmaker on his votes to raise the debt ceiling and end the government shutdown, as well as his support for some immigration reforms. At a May meeting of Republican activists in the district, Cantor was booed, and an ally he campaigned for was ousted as the local party chairman in favor of a tea party favorite"


Dave says:

Fellow Virginians,

I want to thank you for taking the time to learn more about our campaign to provide the Seventh Congressional District with the true conservative representation it deserves.

We face real challenges in our nation, and we will never overcome them by maintaining the status quo. Together, it is time to fight for real, conservative, free market change. Our Republican Creed needs to become our Republican Plan. (Learn more about Dave’s commitment to the Republican Creed)

As a life long Republican and economist, I know how to get our economy back on track, get our citizens back to work, restore our credit rating, and secure a better future for our children and grandchildren. I am committed to being a servant-leader as our Founders intended, and I look forward to the opportunity to fight for you in Washington.

I hope that you take this opportunity to learn as much about me, where I stand, and what kind of congressman I will be, and I encourage you to contact our campaign with any questions or to get involved in working to make our country a better place.

Together, we can accomplish great things, and I have faith that the conservative grassroots will overcome the money that big business and Establishment Republicans will devote to distorting our true free market, conservative principles.



Military Bases: Obama's New Illegal Alien Dumping Grounds

Michelle Malkin

A source tipped me off last week to a curious occurrence: It seems that two planeloads of illegal aliens were recently shipped to Massachusetts. The first reportedly landed at Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford. According to my tipster, approximately 160 illegal immigrants arrived on that flight and stayed nearly a week before being transferred to a Department of Homeland Security site and then released.

The second flight reportedly was diverted from Hanscom to Boston's Logan Airport this past weekend. I am told that both Massachusetts and New Hampshire officials were on hand. I reached out to Hanscom AFB for confirmation, but did not receive a call back by my deadline.

Question: How many other military bases are stealthily being used to redistribute, house, process and release illegal border crossers?

What we do know for sure is that the Obama administration already has converted several other military bases across the country into outposts for tens of thousands of illegal aliens from Central and South America.

San Antonio's Lackland Air Force Base opened its doors as an illegal immigrant camp last month. Port Hueneme Naval Base in Ventura County, Calif., will shelter nearly 600 illegal border-crossing children and teens. The Fort Sill Army post in Lawton, Okla., was ordered on Friday to take in 1,200 illegal aliens despite the objections of GOP Gov. Mary Fallin, who blasted the White House, saying, "The Obama administration continues to fail in its duty to protect our borders and continues to promote policies that encourage, rather than discourage, illegal immigration."

A makeshift detention center in Nogales, Ariz., is being used as the central clearing station for the latest illegal alien surge. The deluge is a threat to national security, public safety and public health -- not to mention a slap in the face to the law-abiding men and women in uniform on those bases and a kick in the teeth to law-abiding people around the world patiently waiting for approval of their visas.

Meanwhile, a law enforcement source in Texas tells me this week that countless illegal aliens are being released into the general public despite testing positive for tuberculosis. "The feds are putting them on public transportation to God knows where," he said.

Another source, working in the border patrol in south Texas, tells me: "Our station, along with every other station, is flooded with women and small children. One lady yesterday had a baby as young as 8 months. And they're coming over with pink eye and scabies. So getting them medically cleared becomes a priority. They'll be here for almost a week, so we provide them with formula and diapers. We have a catering service contracted to feed them because it's too many for us to feed on our own. And of course, they end up being released because every family housing facility is full. They're supposed to show up for immigration court at a later date, but they don't."

As I've said for two decades, illegal alien amnesties guarantee two things: more illegal immigration and more Democratic voters. Now we have a White House forcing U.S. military bases to provide interminable benefits and services to illegal aliens for political gain, while said White House evades responsibility for allowing military veterans to die waiting for the most basic of medical services.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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