Monday, July 07, 2008
AAP And Big Pharma Want To Hook Your Kids, And They're Playing The Cholesterol Card To Scare Parents Into Buying More Designer Drugs
Big Pharma is always on the prowl for more profits. Because many countries regulate how much pharmaceuticals can cost, Big Pharma compensates by gouging existing American customers and spelling millions on creative marketing to ensnare more customers. A January 2008 Science Daily article revealed that Big Pharma spent 24.4 percent of its sales dollars on promotion vs. only 13.4 percent on research and development.
But Big Pharma is not satisfied with having already over-medicated our kids with their products. Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, etc; it got to the point that anyone expressing a sign of unhappiness, anxiety, or moodiness from the ebb and flow of life, was diagnosed as suffering from depression. But when tested in controlled trials, the new generation antidepressants failed to demonstrate a benefit either for severely depressed hospitalized patients or for troubled children. The business success of Prozac is attributable to creative aggressive marketing. Some of our kids are so doped up with designer drugs they've become walking Superfund sites.
Despite these problems, the American Academy of Pediatrics wants us to dope up our kids even more. And to scare us into going along with the scheme, they're uttering the dreaded "C-word"; cholesterol. The AAP is actually recommending that kids as young as eight years old be given cholesterol-lowering drugs, also known as "statins", under the pretext of "preventing heart problems later in life". Full story published in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and ABC News.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that children as young as 2 years old start having their cholesterol levels screened if they have a family history of heart disease or high cholesterol. Screening should start no later than 10, the academy said.
Dr. Steven P. Shelov, chairman of pediatrics at Maimonides Medical Center and head of Maimonides Infants & Children's Hospital in New York City, said he agreed with the new guidelines. "More aggressive screening is a good idea, and the use of [cholesterol-lowering] statins at relatively low doses will keep cholesterol at safer ranges."
The academy is also recommending that children whose family history of cholesterol is not known, or who have risk factors for heart disease -- including obesity, high blood pressure or diabetes -- have their cholesterol tested. All these recommendation were published in the July issue of the journal Pediatrics.
According to the recommendation, the best method for checking cholesterol is a fasting blood test. Children whose cholesterol is normal should have the test repeated every three to five years.
For those children older than 8 who have high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, doctors should consider giving them statins. For younger children with high cholesterol, lifestyle changes such as losing weight and increasing physical activity, as well as nutritional counseling, should be considered. Also, for children 1 year old and older who may be overweight or obese, the academy recommends giving them low-fat dairy products such as 2 percent milk and other low-fat dairy foods.
Supposedly, some 30 percent to 60 percent of U.S. kids with high cholesterol are falling through the cracks, being neither diagnosed nor treated.
Shelov, who was not involved in drafting the recommendations, said he isn't overly concerned about giving statins to children. Side effects are rare, and the benefits of the drugs make them worth the risk, he said. Obviously, he's never watched any of the national evening news programs, chronically spammed by Big Pharma ads exhorting, browbeating or scaring you into rushing to The Doctor to get the newest expensive designer drug. Half of a typical ad is a recital of all the conditions, exceptions, and SIDE EFFECTS of these designer drugs. The Teamrich blog contains links to multiple credible sources documenting the side effects of statins.
Medicinenet goes into more detail. On page two of this article, they chronicle the general side effects. The most common side effects are headache, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, headache, rash, weakness, and muscle pain. The most serious (but fortunately rare) side effects are liver failure and rhabdomyolysis. Rhabdomyolysis is a serious side effect in which there is damage to muscles. Rhabdomyolysis often begins as muscle pain and can progress to loss of muscle cells, kidney failure, and death. It occurs more often when statins are used in combination with other drugs that themselves cause rhabdomyolysis or with drugs that prevent the elimination of statins and raise the levels of statins in the blood. Since rhabdomyolysis may be fatal, unexplained joint or muscle pain that occurs while taking statins should be brought to the attention of a healthcare provider for evaluation.
And it's bad enough that we subject adults to these effects. Do we really want to expose our kids to these potential problems?
The ABC News report uncovers disagreement among medical professionals themselves. Dr. Bruce Gregory Brown, a professor of cardiology at the University of Washington in Seattle. is quite skeptical. "This is overkill for a problem which rarely causes clinical problems before age 40, and is effectively treatable if measures are initiated in the 30 to 40 age range, or later," said Dr. Brown. "The cost of widespread implementation of the AAP recommendations would far exceed their benefits in terms of general health effects," he continued. Dr. Brown also wonders whether statins will have a detrimental effect during puberty, when hormone levels are more sensitive to LDL cholesterol.
Other skeptical medics sounded off to the New York Times. “What are the data that show this is helpful preventing heart attacks?” asked Dr. Darshak Sanghavi, a pediatric cardiologist and assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. “How many heart attacks do we hope to prevent this way? There’s no data regarding that.” Dr. Sanghavi also questioned the possible side effects of taking statins for 40 or 50 years.
Other doctors said the recommendation would distract from common-sense changes in diet and exercise, which are also part of the new guidelines. “To be frank, I’m embarrassed for the A.A.P. today,” said Dr. Lawrence Rosen of Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, vice chairman of an academy panel on traditional and alternative medicine. He added: “Treatment with medications in the absence of any clear data? I hope they’re ready for the public backlash.”
And hopefully, there will be public backlash. The idea of feeding vulnerable, growing kids with dangerous designer drugs should inspire outrage, particularly when obesity is also a product of lifestyle. Too many parents shovel Cheetos and Big Macs at their kids instead of healthy foods. Too many public school districts, including the Anchorage School District, think recess is an option rather than a requirement. The objective should be education rather than medication.
Part of the education process is learning about natural alternatives. The NaturalNews website is a good place to start.