Yael T. Abouhalkah

The flawed drugging of America with more statins

Updated: 2013-11-20T00:27:16Z

By Yael T. Abouhalkah

The Kansas City Star

The doctors and pharmaceutical companies that want to keep drugging Americans with more statins achieved a victory last week.

But it was quickly followed by an embarrassing setback over the weekend.

Just days ago two U.S. heart organizations had unveiled a cholesterol risk calculator that Americans were supposed to use to determine whether they should talk to their doctors about using statins to reduce their risks of having heart attacks and strokes.

The bottom line: The calculator was expected to show that tens of millions of people who don’t take statins ought to take them.

Ka-ching: That’s more money for Big Pharma.

But by the weekend, some leading heart specialists said they had discovered huge flaws in the new calculator. Essentially, the online site overstates the risks of heart attacks and strokes for Americans.

By Monday defenders of the site appeared to be digging in their heels, saying they might have to tweak the website but claiming that the critics might have overstated their case.

All sides keep saying, of course, that patients and doctors should make the final call on whether statins should be prescribed.

But in the real world of online medicate-yourself approach these days, this kind of online calculator could be invaluable in telling people whether they really ought to be worried about certain diseases.

It’s too bad that, at least for the moment, this tool appears very flawed.

To reach Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/YaelTAbouhalkah.

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