Monday, August 27, 2007

Protect Your Family from Bad Drugs

In Dr. Jeffrey Dach's newsletter bearing the title above he begins with the following:

Over the last 30 years, 20 per cent of drugs approved by the FDA were classified as “BAD Drugs”, meaning that they were later withdrawn from the market or given a black box warning.
How can you tell if you are dealing with a BAD DRUG? Here are the early warning signs:
1) The drug has been recalled or given a black box warning.
2) The drug is in litigation with numerous lawsuits against the drug company.
3) The drug has been banned in other countries.

It is worth checking out his links to "black box" drugs, "Recalled or Banned drugs", "Consumer Reports listing of risky drugs", and "Drugs in Litigation".

Of note, at least to me, in his "short list of drugs currently in litigation" are the three Anti-Cholestrol Statin Drugs, Baychol, Lipitor, and Crestor. Why these? Well, I've been on two of them - Baychol and Lipitor. My experience with these two are good and bad.

The good: I was only on Baycol for a very short time (five days) before it was removed from the market. Many suffered severe side effects from Baychol including 385 nonfatal cases of rhabdomyolysis and 52 deaths.

The bad: I was on Lipitor and suffered painful muscle aches (a precursor to rhabdomyolysis). This resulted in the Dr's switching me to other statin drugs resulting in similar side effects (and as noted above one of those was Baycol). I ended up being on statins for most of 20 years bowing to the conventional wisdom in the medical and drug industry that it is better than the almost certain alternative - a heart attack (sometimes referred to in my presence as a 'widow maker'). Not wanting that inevetibility I obediently followed the statin trail to prevent cholesterol from doing me in. What a good doobee I was! I was such a good doobee that my serum cholesterol was always below the ever decreasing deadly level. Boy was I glad! And it kept my doctors from having a coronary should they see what my lipids normally gravitated to.

More bad: In July of 1994 at the age of 51, with a cholesterol well below 100, I was blessed with a myocardial infarction or MI (commonly referred to as a heart attack). The fact that I'm writing this reveals that it was not of the 'widow maker' genus. Just in the nick of time they did a CABG (Coronary Artery Bypass Graft) ripping an extra vein from my leg to replace the offending one on the wall of my heart, or at least bypassing it. Whew! Think of how much worse it could have been had I not been drugging my lipids low enough.

And more bad: I had four subsequent MIs three of them resulting in percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) accompanied by inserting an expandable wire mesh tubes to prop open arteries which had been obstructed (also called a stent). And just think how much worse it could have been had I not been drugging my lipids low enough.

Oh yeah! Another bad: I also am a cancer survivor. Seems totally separate from the rest and maybe it is. Then again, I came across one of the statin drug trials which did show a decrease in mortality due to coronary artery disease (CAD) resulting from, presumably taking the statin drug. And the summary or conclusion along with the 'in unison chorus' from the press, loudly stated that. BUT... that trial showed an overall mortality rate higher when you included all death causes. Yup you guessed it. There were more deaths due to cancer in the intervention group that took statins than in the control group taking the placebo. OOps! And not so loudly chorused was this un-interesting bit of data cuz afterall they were trying to show how statins reduce CAD and it appeared to show exactly that.

What have I learned through all this? Since I began to ask questions and began to read some pretty heavy stuff (a sample included under "Credible Evidence" on the right), at least I've learned some big words but that's less impressive than learning to take a pro-active position on my health. I'm only a retired engineer not a medical professional. But I'm so much more informed than when I was being a 'good doobee'. The quest to be pro-active only began about two-three years ago and the informed experiment is still in progress. It's been a little over a year since my last MI and PCI and I really feel pretty good. That really means little since through the whole MI/PCI phase of my life I've never really felt that bad. I'm no longer on statins or anything else to lower my cholesterol. So what is it now after drugging it to in the 70's way back then? I don't know nor do I care. Why? Most of the answer to that is found in those cholesterol and diet articles cited under Credible Evidence, most of which come from medical journals or significant medical research which I continue to read.

Enough for now! But stay tuned if you want to learn some big words.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Bill,

    Thanks for sharing your story about statin drugs.

    Here is another article devoted to Lipitor which you might find interesting:

    Lipitor and the Dracula of Modern Technology


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