“Statins: Harmful Or Helpful?”
Drug manufacturers have set out to “statinize” the world with cholesterol-lowering medicines. The stakes are high as total sales of statins may approach $1 trillion worldwide by 2020; the most commercially successful drug in history, atorvastatin (Lipitor®), had sales exceeding $120 billion between 1996 and 2011. Estimates of the number of US adults who would be newly eligible for statin use under the new guidelines may reach 45 million. In other words, about 1 in 3 American adults overall, and perhaps as many as 1 billion worldwide, would be potential candidates for statin treatment. Certain studies show statins can be helpful in reducing mortality from cardiovascular (CV) events. In 2012, Kostis and colleagues published a meta-analysis of 18 randomized trials demonstrating a significant reduction in all-cause mortality and cardiovascular (CV) events in both men and women who were taking statins compared with those taking placebo or receiving usual care. However, a meta-analysis of randomized trials and observational cohort studies involving 13,622 elderly participants, over a quarter of whom were 80 years old or older, found insufficient data to make any recommendation regarding statin treatment in this population.