Many drugs have been developed which modify cholesterol levels in one way or another. Because there is a fervent belief within the research community that cholesterol causes heart disease, there is also slavish adherence to the belief that modifying cholesterol will translate into ‘clinical benefit’. But oh how often we have been left disappointed. There are many instances of where drugs which ‘improved’ cholesterol levels did nothing to prevent chronic disease, and even some examples where things went badly wrong.
I’m left unmoved, though, on the basis that the impact a drug has on cholesterol is irrelevant – it’s only the impact it has on health that is really important. The cholesterol theory leaves behind a litany of drugs that promised a lot, and delivered little and even harmed people. Even the one class of drugs that does appear to confer some benefits (statins) fails to benefit the vast majority of people who take it and does not save lives in people who have not previously had a heart attack or stroke. There’s an elephant in the room, but it would appear the pharmaceutical industry is blind to it. So intent it is, it seems, on developing the next ‘blockbuster’, and its obsession with projected revenues and share price means billions of dollars and some lives have been wasted.
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