Pfizer Ads Come Clean about Lipitor, BUT IS Anyone Paying Attention?
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Pfizer Ads Come Clean about Lipitor, but Is Anyone
Written by Rodger Murphree, D.C.
TAC, Integrative Healthcare , Volume 30, Issue 3
Accounting for 6.5 percent of the total market share,
statin drugs are the most widely sold pharmaceutical
drugs in history. To date, Forbes Magazine tells us that
statins are earning drug companies $26 billion in annual
Pfizer spends over $3 billion each year to convince us
that we need more and more drugs to be healthy. The
public and the medical profession have been bamboozled
by the legions of drug reps, billion dollar ad
campaigns, and creative statistics. Every weekday, some
38,000 Pfizer sales reps, roughly the size of three army
divisions, make their pitches around the globe. They’re
armed with briefcases full of free drug samples, reams
of manipulated clinical data, and lavish expense
accounts for wining and dining doctors and their staffs.
The medical profession, its organizations, the media,
and the public at large have swallowed the statin drug
propaganda, hook, line and sinker.
In 2004, Pfizer’s blockbuster drug Lipitor became the
first prescription drug to make more than $10 billion in
annual sales. Over twenty-six million Americans have
taken Lipitor, the most popular statin drug. Pfizer is
now running full-page Lipitor ads in numerous papers,
including The New York Times and USA Today. The ads
feature Dr. Robert Jarvik, inventor of the artificial
heart. The ad reads: In patients with multiple risk
factors for heart disease, LIPITOR REDUCES RISK OF HEART
ATTACK BY 36%.* The noteworthy part of this ad is the
asterisk and this explanation of the 36 percent
statistic: "That means, in a large clinical study, 3% of
patients taking a sugar pill or placebo had a heart
attack compared to 2% of patients taking Lipitor."
Another Jarvik/Lipitor Times ad proclaims: "In patients
with type 2 diabetes, LIPITOR REDUCES RISK OF STROKE BY
48%.* If you also have at least one other risk factor
for heart disease...." The explanation: "That means, in
a large clinical study, 2.8% of patients taking a sugar
pill or placebo had a stroke compared to 1.5% of
patients taking Lipitor."
Twenty-six billion dollars a year for a one to two
percent decreased risk for heart attack and
stroke—that’s what all the fuss is about? It almost
seems like snake oil. Yet, some doctors are recommending
we put statins in the drinking water. Others are now
suggesting that infants with a family history of heart
disease should take statins as a preventative measure.
The Washington Post ran an article that reported on the
PROVE-IT study: "‘The findings should prompt doctors to
give much higher doses of drugs known as statins to
hundreds of thousands of patients who already have
severe heart problems,’ experts said."
Perhaps "the experts" aren’t aware of studies that show
low serum total cholesterol is associated with a marked
increase in mortality in advanced heart failure.
One of the largest of these studies was conducted at
UCLA Department of Medicine and Cardiomyopathy Center in
Los Angeles. The study involved more than a thousand
patients with severe congestive heart failure (CHF).
After five years, 62 percent of the patients with
cholesterol below 129 mg/l had died, but only half as
many of the patients with cholesterol above 223 mg/l.
The Post article goes on to say: "In addition, it will
probably encourage physicians to start giving the
medications to millions of healthy people who are not
yet on them and to boost dosages for some of those
already taking them to lower their cholesterol even
The last line of the quote above should ellicit alarm
from every taxpayer in America. Why? Because it will be
the taxpayers who will pay for all those Medicaid and
Medicare statin prescriptions, amounting to billions of
dollars spent on worthless and dangerous drugs. Worse,
we’ll also be paying for all the costs associated with
the drug-induced side effects of the statin
medications—congestive heart failure, polyneuritis,
muscle pain, depression, memory loss (dementia), poor
immune function, and fatigue, to name a few.
Okay, the real question is this: "Do statin drugs reduce
deaths associated with cardiovascular disease?"
Contrary to the Lipitor ads, apparently not, since a
meta-analysis of forty-four trials involving almost
10,000 patients showed the death rate was identical at
one percent of patients in each of the three
groups—those taking atorvastatin (Lipitor), those taking
other statins and those taking nothing.
And what about using statins as a prophylactic measure?
A meta-analysis of five major statin drugs showed that
statin drugs provided a total absolute reduction in
total mortality of 0.3 percent among those who showed no
signs of having cardiovascular disease (primary
prevention). With respect to preventing heart attack and
stroke, the five combined studies showed that statins
prevented these events by a mere 1.4 percent.
We’d be wise to read the study below before putting
statins in the drinking water.
The British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology reported on
an analysis of all the major controlled trials before
the year 2000 and found that long-term use of statins
for primary prevention of heart disease produced a one
percent greater risk of death over ten years, compared
to a placebo.
The only thing statin drug trials have proven for sure
is that statin drugs lower cholesterol by inhibiting an
enzyme known as HMG-CoA-Reductase. Regardless of their
ability to lower cholesterol, they failed to show that
this effect has any meaningful benefit for preventing
early death from heart disease, heart attack or stroke.
And they’ve proven to be a catalyst for dangerous side
The most common side effect associated with statin drugs
is muscle pain and weakness. The symptoms are most
likely due to the depletion of CoQ10, a nutrient that
supports muscle function. One study found that 98
percent of patients taking Lipitor and one-third of the
patients taking Mevachor (a lower-dose statin) suffered
from muscle problems.
A Denmark study that evaluated 500,000 patients found
that taking statins for one year raised the risk of
nerve damage by about 15 percent—about one case for
every 2,200 patients. For those who took statins for two
or more years, the additional risk rose to 26 percent.
Former astronaut Dr. Duane Graveline describes in his
book, Lipitor: Thief of Memory, his complete memory loss
due to the side effects of Lipitor.
The incidence of congestive heart failure (CHF) has
steadily increased since the introduction of statin
drugs. In fact, while heart attacks have slightly
declined, CHF has more than doubled since 1989. Statins
were first prescribed in 1987.
An article published in the Journal of the American
Medical Association reveals that, in every study with
rodents to date, statins have caused cancer. In the CARE
trial, breast cancer rates of those taking a statin went
up 1500 percent.
And one last reason to avoid statins—men whose
cholesterol levels are lowered through the use of
prescription medications double their chances of
I applaud Pfizer for coming clean on their new Lipitor
ads. I just hope the public and the brainwashed medical
community pays attention to the asterisk and the fine
print. A one to two percent benefit earns Pfizer ten
billion dollars a year. Mind-boggling, isn’t it?
Rodger Murphree, D.C., has been in private practice
since 1990. He is the founder of, and past clinic
director for a large integrated medical practice, which
was located on the campus of Brookwood Hospital in
Birmingham, Alabama. He is the author of Treating and
Beating Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Heart
Disease What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You, and Treating
and Beating Anxiety and Depression with Orthomolecular
Medicine. He can be reached at
www.treatingandbeating.com, by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 1-205-879-2383.
1. Harriet Rosenberg and Danielle Allard “Evidence for
Caution: Women and statin use” Women and Health
Protection June 2007
2. Business Week magazine Lipitor cover story: “Do
Cholesterol Drugs do any Good?”January 17, 2008.
3. TheHeart.org from Web MD www.theheart.org, see video
blog of Eric J. Topol, MD, “Temple of the LDL
4. "REPEAT/New Study Showed VYTORIN® Superior to Lipitor
in Reducing LDL ''Bad'' Cholesterol in Patients with
Type II Diabetes at the Recommended Usual Starting
Doses." Business Wire. June 12, 2006.
5. The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics,
6. Rodger H. Murphree D.C., Heart Disease What Your
Doctor Won’t Tell You. Harrison and Hampton Publishing
Birmingham, AL. 2006.