Good, Bad or Unnecessary?

When I came home from Portland, I had this crazy desire to clean – although Bear always keeps the house in pristine condition when I’m gone.  I tried to ignore it, but that didn’t work.  So, I cleaned, right down to cleaning out the articles I keep for the blog.  Of course, being me, I had to read each one before I trashed it. Lo and behold, I started seeing a pattern with some of them.

On Halloween of last year [my brother, Paul Peck’s birthday, by the way], this article appeared.  By the end of the blog, you’ll be able to figure out if it was a trick or a treat.

FDA staff say Merck’s Vytorin helps kidney patients

(Reuters) – U.S. Food and Drug Administration reviewers said Merck’s cholesterol-lowering drug Vytorin was effective in reducing the rate of heart attacks or other cardiovascular problems in patients with kidney disease.

The FDA reviewers also said Merck’s blockbuster drug, which pairs a new type of cholesterol fighter Zetia with Merck’s older statin drug Zocor, is unlikely to cause or promote cancer.

But, as I read further in the article, I found that Vytorin contained the generic drug simvastatin which had already been approved to lower cholesterol.

You can read the entire article at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/31/us-fda-merck-vytorin-idUSTRE79U33Y20111031

Something nagged at me, so I went to Drugs.com to check out Vytorin.  This is what I found there:

What is Vytorin?

Vytorin contains a combination of ezetimibe and simvastatin.

Vytorin is used to treat high cholesterol in adults and children who are at least 10 years old.

Ezetimibe reduces the amount of cholesterol absorbed by the body.

Simvastatin is in a group of drugs called HMG CoA reductase inhibitors, or “statins.” Simvastatin reduces levels of “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) and triglycerides in the blood, while increasing levels of “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL).

[Another of Vytorin’s original claims had been that it attacks both genetic and life habit causes of hyperlipidemia.  Remember those tv ads about whether what you ate or Uncle Frank’s genes caused your high cholesterol?  That’s where this claim was made.]

As I kept reading, I found two disturbing warnings:

  1. In rare cases, simvastatin can cause a condition that results in the breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue, leading to kidney failure. This condition may be more likely to occur in older adults and in people who have kidney disease or poorly controlled hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).
  2. Avoid eating foods that are high in fat or cholesterol. Vytorin will not be as effective in lowering your cholesterol if you do not follow a cholesterol-lowering diet plan.

So a pill that combats high cholesterol on both fronts – genetics and life habits – still requires a life habit change [diet] but could kill CKD patients when given to them to avoid heart problems.  I was not happy.

But it gets even weirder [Did you know Portland’s city motto is “Keep Portland Weird”?] Remember that simvastatin supposedly lowers bad cholesterol and raises good cholesterol and that simvastatin is the generic drug in Vytorin.

‘Good’ cholesterol’s heart benefits challenged

Drugs to raise HDL can’t be assumed to reduce heart attack risk

CBC News

Posted: May 17, 2012 3:46 PM ET

Having naturally high levels of “good” cholesterol doesn’t lower the risk of heart attacks as believed.

LDL cholesterol is referred to as “bad” cholesterol because when there’s too much, it promotes the build-up of plaque in artery walls.

HDL cholesterol is known as “good” cholesterol because higher concentrations have been associated with lower risk of heart attacks in observational studies.

The hoped for benefits of increasing high-density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol for lowering heart attack risk haven’t panned out in randomized trials of experimental drugs.

According to conventional wisdom, those who inherit genetic variants for higher HDL levels should have lower cardiovascular risk. When researchers tested 116,000 people, they found 2.6 per cent of them were genetically

This article’s address is:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2012/05/17/cholesterol-good-hdl-heart-attacks.html?cmp=rss

So you may be taking a drug prescribed to treat your hyperlipidemia but it doesn’t matter if your good cholesterol is raised, even though that’s one of Merck’s [the manufacturer] claims.  In addition, it is possible that this drug prescribed to prevent heart problems in CKD patients may kill them. Why do I get the sinking feeling that this is business as usual for the drug industry?

On another note, several medical personnel I met in Portland brought the book into their hospital.  Thank you Kenyon Decker and Corinna Bayer for bringing the book to Portland VA Medical Center.  Mark Anderson was kind enough to bring the book to the attention of the Oregon Urology Institute, while Marc Overbeck, the director of Oregon Primary Care Office at the

Office for Oregon Health Policy & Research introduced the book there. Dr. Greg Nigh’s wife (who neglected to give me her name, unfortunately) took the book to her husband Nature Cures Clinic, LLC. Another nurse, a Reiki master and others took the book to share with their practices.  Landmark people are wonderful when it comes to doing good works!  If you were one of these unnamed people, leave a comment and I’d be more than glad to get your name in print by way of a thank you.

Unfortunately, I need to report that the medical bracelet I am so unhappy with is now thoroughly discolored – something else that was not mentioned before I bought it.  I would notify the company but am lax to do so since they didn’t respond to any of my other emails.

Also, if you’d like to leave a comment, please don’t use your work address.  WordPress classifies it as spam and even though I go through all the comments, without a working email address I am not confident that WordPress has made a mistake.  In other words, make sure there’s a working email with your comment so it doesn’t get lost in the spam folder.

Wow, this was a long one.

Until next week,

Keep living your life!

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It’s very straightforward to find out any matter on net as compared to books, as I found this paragraph at this website.

    • Thanks, Casper. Take a look at the blog roll for help, too. By the way, that’s quite a picture on your webstie. I’m interested in old photos myself.


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