by Julie Deardorff
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the drug rosuvastatin (Crestor) for people who have not been diagnosed with heart disease, leaving some preventive cardiologists shaking their heads. Crestor costs $1,500 a year. It comes with side effects, including muscle pain, gastrointestinal disorders, a "confused state" and an increased risk of diabetes. And the FDA's expanded use of Crestor will encourage dependence on pharmaceutical drugs, critics say.
"Is this the best way to spend money to promote good health?" wondered Northwestern cardiologist Steve Devries, an associate professor of cardiology at the Feinberg School of Medicine. Instead, "our strongest push should be to encourage healthy lifestyle changes," Devries said.
That means focusing on diet and exercise, which the FDA says you should do while taking Crestor, anyway. The FDA approval means Crestor can now be marketed to men over age 50 and women over age 60 who have at least one traditional cardiovascular risk factor (smoking, high blood pressure, family history) and high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a biomarker for inflammation. Elevated CRP is associated with the buildup of cholesterol and other fatty material in the coronary arteries. Cholesterol medication is designed to lower so-called "bad" cholesterol. And it can play a vital role in certain situations, said Devries.
But high levels of CRP "can be treated with weight loss, exercise, smoking cessation, reduced intake of sugar-boosting carbohydrates and reduced intake of unhealthy fats," said Devries. Moreover, a Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiac problems by more than 70 percent, he said. "Public health efforts should be focused on developing innovative programs to encourage health lifestyles-changes that have a far broader potential for improving health -- and at a lower cost -- than any FDA approval can achieve," said Devries.
Bonnie - it is nice to see Dr. Devries step out and comment on this issue. I have known Dr. Devries for a long time and I appreciate his candor. Obviously, I am in total agreement.
As I said a long time ago, the powers-that-be want as many people to be on a statins as possible.