Scott: Recently, there was new guidelines posted about statin drugs, which would end up making, what a third or a quarter of adult Americans on these? What's your thoughts on that, is that something you think is needed?
Dr. Michael Greger: If you look at who's on the panel...I mean, if you look at the conflicts of interest, I mean who... It's the people that are, you know, receive money, honoraria from the pharmaceutical industries. It's important to recognize, Lipitor, a cholesterol lowering statin drug, is the most common drug prescribed on the planet earth. Billions of dollars. Why? Because people take it for the rest of their lives. Antibiotics, you take for 10 days. You can charge a lot. Chemotherapy, you can charge huge amounts, but taken for a time limited period. But for something... a drug like a cholesterol lowering drug or a blood pressure lowering drug, any of these kind of lifestyle related... where you have to ... because you're not treating the underlying cause. The underlying cause of high blood pressure... you have diseased, dysfunctional arteries. You're not treating the cause, but you just artificially lower blood pressure to prevent damage to the eyes and kidneys, etcetera. But you have to take it forever, because you're not actually doing anything about the disease process. Because, which is really... it comes down to what you eat. And so, these are a boon to the pharmaceutical industry. I mean, this is, this is kind of their bread and butter.
So there's tremendous financial interest, to... you know, promote these kind of drugs. So that makes it difficult, for, even kind of a dispassionate scientist to look at the medical literature, because of the role funding souces may play in how data is being reported, whether or not the paper gets published at all. And so, that's why one always has to with a little grain of salt, take these recommendations even from, really kind of prestigious, you know, look at the USDA dietary guidelines. Look, it's the Federal government, you know, these aren't the Coca-Cola guidelines. But if you look at who's on the dietary guidelines committee, the ones that actually writes the guidelines, it's the Coca... I mean it's the people that are members of the 'Coca-Cola beverage institute of health and wellness' or something or the McDonalds, you know, paid for the sugar association, the salt institute, the pork producers. And so, you know you'd like to be able to trust these kind of third party, supposedly unbiased sources. But when you actually follow the money, you see these conflicts of interest because there's so much money at stake. And so that's why its always important to check for these conflicts of interest. The USDA is getting better. So after, actually they were sued in 2005, because the guidelines were written with obvious ties to the food industry. And after that, that was a little bruising for them. And after that, they, 2010 was better, 2015 which will come out, which they're working on should be better still. And by better I mean more evidenced based. More based on the science rather than the commercial influence.
Cholesterol lowering drugs are one of, if not the most prescribed class of drugs in the world. There is one big reason for that and it starts with the people behind the drugs and their studies. Dr. Michael Greger discusses the many conflicts of interest when it comes to these drugs!
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