Crimes of Cholesterol Drugs
Majid Ali, M.D.
Today I saw a distinguished man, a retired executive who worked for New York City government, in my first consultation with him. His cardiologist had prescribed five drugs for him, including one for lowering his blood cholesterol level, which was 106 in his latest lab report. I am uncomfortable when cholesterol levels of my patients are below 170. I get worried when the level falls below 150. I consider a cholesterol level of less than 125 hazardous to health. I looked at the report, read the number three times to make sure I did not misread it, wondered about whether I should avoid the subject altogether in the first visit, then looked up. He looked at with blank eyes. I spoke some reassuring words about his case and suggested that we might reduce the drug dose at a later date after beginning with simple nutritional program and some gentle spice therapies. It was then that I decided to relate in this blog a dream about cholesterol I has sometime ago. I call it the Statinex dream. Here it is:
The Statinex Dream
In a dream, I opened my eyes and saw a monster leaning over me. He wore a heavy metal cape and helmet, and carried a large spear. His eyes were red, his mouth frothing.
“Wake up, you little beast,” he barked. “Give me a plan to hurt more people in more ways for longer periods of time than has ever been done before.”
“A plan to hurt people?” I stammered, shaking with fear. “Sir, I’m not a planner. I’m just a doctor.”
“Don’t waste my time,” he shouted, pushing my chest with his spear. “Give me a plan.”
“Sir… Sir..”I choked on my words. “Doctors are not taught to hurt people, and I’m just a ….”
“Don’t waste my time, you creep,” he cut me off. “I want a plan.”
“Sir, you could try an earthquake or perhaps some tsunami'” I struggled to control tremors.
“You don’t you get it, do you, punk?” He thundered, piercing my skin with the spear. I want a plan to hurt more people in more ways for longer periods of time.”
“Maybe poison the water? Poison the air? Everywhere,” I blurted.
“Poison the water and the air everywhere.” He repeated my words, his face softening a bit. Or was that my imagination.
“Sir, may I ask who you are?” I mustered the courage.
“Satan. I’m Satan, the Great.” he frowned. “There is something else.”
“What else?” A chill passed through my body.
“I want people to hurt themselves and feel good about it.” Satan chewed his words with relish.
“People hurt themselves and then feel good. Sir, Satan, is that your wish?” I asked exasperated.
“Yes, that’s the idea, son” Satan winked. I breathed a deep sigh of relief. He called me his son. Maybe I ‘ll get through this after all, I imagined. “A plan, little beast.” Satan shrieked. “Plan. A simple plan.”
I mumbled to myself, feeling full return of earlier terror. “Sir, you could use a drug. You could use a statin drug for cholesterol.”
“Will a statin drug can torment people worldwide?” He asked with narrowing eyes. “How?”
“It will poison their livers, injure their muscles, make them tired and sick. Some will die of kidney failure, others might get cancers. But all of them will be toxic and sick for years,” I explained.
“Why will people take such a toxic drug?” He shoved the spear deeper.
“Sir, you could tell the editors of The New Enron Journal of Medicine to set a medical standard that everyone must be tested for cholesterol and then drugged with a statin regardless of their cholesterol level,” I replied, shaking from head to toe.
“I didn’t know the editors of the Journal can be bribed,” Satan sneered.
“It’s done all the time, Sir Satan.” I felt a surge of relief.
Satan stared at me for a few moments, smiled, then suddenly erupted, “Hey, little creep, I warn you, I’ll be back and spear you to death if your cholesterol-statin plan doesn’t work in five years.”
I shivered as I realized the statin plan may not work in five years. Statin toxicity usually takes longer to become evident. I had to think fast and come up with something else, but what? Quick, mind, quick. Work fast. The Great Satan means business, I told myself, breathless with panic. And then came the solution.
“Sir, would you consider one other thing. Would you ban insulin testing?” I labored for breath.
“What would that do?” His spear dug deeper.
“Because the statin plan may not work if people find out that it is too much insulin which inflames and sickens them. It is too much insulin which produces heart attacks, strokes, and blindness. It is too much insulin that causes kidney failure that takes them to dialysis and dementia.”
“How would you stop doctors from doing insulin tests?” Satan leaned closer. “I warn you, creep.”
“Sir…Sir… you could use the Journal again. For dollars, the editors will do anything.”
Satan stared at me for long moments and then evaporated.
I woke up, sweating profusely, my heart racing, my chest thumping. What a chilling dream! A visit from Satan himself. God, he called me his son and I was relieved. Shame shrouded me. I became a son of Satan and felt safe. What a nightmare! And what about my Hippocratic oath of not hurting anyone. I closed my eyes in remorse. Moments passed and I opened my eyes and there he was again.
“Sir, did I say something wrong?” I asked, trembling for my life.
“Why is a statin drug called statin?” he winked and smiled.
“Oh, Sir Satan, does the name statin have something to do with your name, sir, Satan?” I asked.
“What do you think?” Satan grinned.
“Oh God!” I exclaimed, forgetting my situation for a moment. “So, it was you who named the drug statin, and…”
“Don’t say Oh God, meathead,” he cut me off and thundered, “Say, Oh Satan. Your God didn’t plan the cholesterol-statin industrial complex. Be respectful, meathead. Don’t you want to live?”
“God, I’m so thick-headed. No, no! Satan, I’m so thick-headed,” I shivered as I caught my blunder. “I’m so thick-headed. I just couldn’t figure it out. Now, I get it, Satan. You were the mastermind. You designed the cholesterol-statin industrial complex.”
“So, you get it now,” Satan smiled.
“But why call them satanis? Why not Statinex? Or Satanicos or Satanicas?”
“I wanted to tickle doctors’ imagination. But they never got it. Your New Enron Journal froze their minds,” Satan chuckled.
We looked at each other in silence, my fears melting. Satan was almost like a friend then. I asked,
“Sir Satan, Your plan is a huge success. People worldwide are sick with statins and doctors keep pushing more and more statins. People worldwide are insulin-toxic, but doctors never test them for insulin. Insulin toxicity causes diabetes, dialysis, and dementia and people don’t even know they are insulin-toxic.”
Satan blushed. Encouraged, I continued, “Even The New York Times ran a front page story about it on March 31, 2010. It was titled “Cholesterol Pills Aimed at Healthy People.”
What a great promotion of the drug! And then three days later, C-Span spent an hour promoting statin drugs. It had the Executive Director of Center for Science in Public Interest who talked about cholesterol clogging coronary arteries over and over. No, he didn’t once mention statins, but the viewers were too fogged to see things clearly. What a great promotion. Sir, Satan, I have to hand it to you. You’re good, Satan. You’re good.”
We were both silent again. He looked at me with patronizing eyes, then gently touched my shoulder. Feeling Satan’s friendship and reassured, I spoke, “Nobody else could have done it so cleverly, so elegantly. Pray, tell me, Sir Satan, why did you reveal it?
Why did you reveal your Devil’s death plan now?”
“Can you guess?” Satan chuckled.
“Is it because people who take statin drugs do not realize who is behind this? Is it because every intelligent designer wants to be recognized for his intelligent design? Am I right?” I asked earnestly.
Satan looked at me intently for several moments and evaporated. I awoke and replayed the dream in my mind with growing amusement. Then two questions arose: Did I ever read a strong anti-statin and pro-insulin-testing articles in The New York Times? Did I ever saw strong anti-statinand pro-insulin-testing program on C-Span, CNN, or that paragon of “Fair and Balanced” reporting? I could not remember any.
On March 24, 2010, I saw Sherry L., a 94-year-old woman with a sharp mind and a strong heart. Her blood cholesterol level is 318. Six days later, a 68-year-old 5′ 10″ patient weighing 268 lbs. told me his insurance company had denied coverage of four-hour insulin test that I had ordered. On March 31, a front page story of The New York Times reported the government’s support for a statin drug for healthy people, who in Times’ words, do not need the drug. On that day, Pfizer also admitted on its web site that it paid $35.3 million to American doctors to promote its drugs in the six months of 2009 ($70.6 million for the year). That, of course, is small change for the company since Lipitor, its cholesterol drug, earned $11 billion in 2009. On April 3, 2010, the Executive Director of Center for Science in Public Interest preached the cholesterol-statin scripture on C-Span for an hour. That night I had my dream.