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Heart Attack in your future? There’s a pill for that.

April 6, 2010 Leave a comment

The FDA recently approved a new use for Astra-Zeneca’s cholesterol medication Crestor: prevention. The drug giant will soon be marketing Crestor to people who may have cholesterol problems in the future. Based on their studies, taking one pill a day reduced the incidence of heart attacks . So, naturally that means a whole new market has opened up for drug companies: people who view the threat of high cholesterol as unavoidable for them, given their dietary choices (read: typical Western-diet Americans). For $3.50 per day, you get the peace-of-mind of a pill that justifies your rampant consumption of food that is bad for you.

Obviously, I think this is ridiculous. It’s bad enough to me that our doctors do not seem to prescribe cholesterol-free diets to their heart-disease patients (why not strongly recommend a vegan diet to every heart-attack risk that comes through the door?). Now the pharmaceutical industry is sending the message that your diet is not such a big deal- you just need to take your medicine. And why wouldn’t they? Even if they can mask their intentions under the guise of reducing the number of heart attacks by providing this wonder of science, there is no denying that they have a huge potential for big bucks with this new use. If only a small percentage of the millions of at-risk cholesterol-inhaling Westerners (men aged 50+, women 60+) opt to start taking Crestor every day, it will still mean BILLIONS in revenue. Here’s some rudimentary math to show my point (I’ll use a very small number of patients, just to extend the example provided by the New York Times):

  • Astra-Zeneca’s study showed a reduction of 2 heart attacks per 1000 patients when Crestor is used daily.
  • Crestor costs $3.50 per day
  • Say 10,000 patients are prescribed Crestor:
    • Annual cost of 1 prescription: $3.5 x 365 days = $1,277.50
    • Annual cost of 10,000 prescriptions: $1,277.50 x 10,000 = $12.8 Million
    • Number of heart attacks prevented (according to A-Z studies): 20

Talk about out-of-control health care costs. And this is only a tiny fraction of what will actually be prescribed. What if those 10,000 patients just stopped eating cholesterol? I haven’t seen any studies on this, but it is not hard to imagine that there would be a bigger reduction in heart attacks than 20.

Cholesterol comes only from animal products. Vegans eat zero cholesterol.

I will not be sending $1200 per year to Astra-Zeneca.

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