Statins patients ‘used as guinea pigs’
Cardiologist Aseem Malhotra told a conference that doctors were unwittingly practising “Unethical medicine” by prescribing statins which he said offered little or no benefit to patients at low risk of heart disease. He also claimed patients were not being told the true benefits and harms of the cholesterol lowering drug. His comments have fuelled the debate surrounding the group of medicines, the most widely prescribed treatment in the UK given to up to 12 million patients, or around one in four adults. Use of the drugs fiercely divides medical opinion with proponents arguing the benefits in reducing the risk of heart attacks and stroke far outweigh the risk of side effects which include severe muscle pain, impotence, cataracts, mental impairment, diabetes, fatigue and liver dysfunction. “Speaking at the British Association for Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation event in London on Thursday Dr Malhotra, a consultant cardiologist and bestselling author of The Pioppi Diet, said:”We have a healthcare system failure and epidemic of misinformed doctors and misled patients. “Patients are guinea pigs and they don’t even know it.” He added: “Side effects of these drugs have not been properly and independently investigated and doctors are making clinical decisions on incomplete information.” Dr Malhotra highlighted research which showed patients treated with statins at low risk of heart disease do not reduce their risk of premature death. Dr Malhotra said data on the benefits of statins was questionable as most of it has been sponsored by drug companies. “He said:”The widespread prescription of these drugs is turning out to be one of the biggest scandals in the history of medicine. “This needs further investigation and patients need to be told the truth.” A spokesman for the Government’s drug regulator the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, said: “The benefits of statins are well established and considered to outweigh the risk of side effects in the majority of patients.” Earlier this year medical journal The Lancet published research saying that side effects of muscle pain and weakness were not a result of statins but negative beliefs in patients about the medication. The paper’s lead author, Professor Peter Sever, said that the muscle pains were not likely to be directly linked to the drug. The former deputy chairman of the British Medical Association questioned claims there were no side effects, saying the drugs had left him with muscle pains so severe he needed MRI scans. Dr Kailash Chand, a 68-year-old GP from Tameside, Greater Manchester, said: “When I went on these drugs I suffered terrible muscle twitching and such muscle pain it was crippling and I had to have MRI and CT scans.”When I came off the drugs the pain totally disappeared.
Discovery of Bacteria in Wild Pigs Prompts Alert to Farmers, Hunters
Discovery of Brucella suis in wild pigs means farmers, hunters and commercial pork producers need to keep their guards up. Go for a walk in the woods of North Carolina and you might expect to encounter deer, rabbits, squirrels or birds; the idea of running across a wild pig isn’t uppermost in the mind of most people here. North Carolina has a sizable population of feral pigs, and researchers have evidence that a bacteria dangerous to both pigs and people is now in the state. According to new research from North Carolina State University, some feral pigs have been exposed to Brucella suis, a bacteria that should have hunters, farmers and people in the commercial pork industry keeping close watch. Kennedy-Stoskopf said the biggest risk is to hunters, who might bag a feral pig in the woods and be exposed to the bacteria during the course of cleaning and dressing the animal. “We provide gloves, dustmasks, eye protection for the hunters here,” said Mike Rose, a manager at Howell Woods, an environmental education center in southeastern Johnston County where the NC State researchers found nine pigs that tested positive to antibodies against B. suis. Wildlife biologists estimate as many as 5 million feral pigs roam more than 37 states of the U.S. Most feral pigs in North Carolina can be found in the Smokies, but there’s also a sizable number in eastern and southeastern counties. Many pigs in nearby states such as South Carolina and Florida carry Brucella bacteria. “Hunters will go out of the state, they’ll hunt the feral pigs, catch them in traps and haul them up here,” said Chris DePerno, associate professor in the Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology program at NC State and a co-author of the paper. Legislation passed in the General Assembly last year went into effect on Jan 1 making it illegal to bring wild pigs here from other states, and adding new fines of up to $5000 per pig carried to North Carolina. That’s why both the US and NC Departments of Agriculture collect blood samples from pigs caught by hunters all over the state, looking for a variety of pathogens, including Brucella. North Carolina has the second largest commercial production of pigs in the US, with an estimated value of $792 million in 2010. DePerno, Kennedy-Stoskopf and their collaborators collected blood samples from more than 400 pigs killed by hunters or caught in baited traps over the course of three hunting seasons. They detected a total of ten pigs that had antibodies to B. suis, indicating that the pigs either were infected or had been infected. Kennedy-Stoskopf said most commercial pig farms practice measures intended to keep bacteria and viruses from getting to their animals, but she said there’s still a slight chance a disease from a wild pig could get into a commercial operation.