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Cholesterol Pills For Kids – Stop The Madness!

Many of the comments on the NYT and other articles on the new recommendations for pediatricians and family doctors to put children on brain-damaging statins are expressing outrange that drug companies are taking over the minds of doctors. Don’t blame doctors. We’re being threatened by insurance companies. If we don’t do exactly what drug companies want, we’ll be paid less. In some cases, some of us might loose our jobs. (OKay, we do deserve some blame for not standing up for ourselves!)

I went for a job interview in Portland and in a conversation with the medical director of a large group there, I was told that if I failed to get my patients LDL levels down to 100 “someone will sit down and talk with you.” This particular group was able to offer a better starting salary than average. I had assumed that the reason they could offer more was through efficiencies. During the interview, I learned there was more to it than that. They had special arrangements with drug companies called ‘incentive programs.’ The medical director told me with absolute glee “we keep asking them (meaning drug companies) for money and they keep giving it to us.” He sounded like a kid at Christmas!

This group’s policy is to get everyone’s LDL under 100, regardless of risk factors. Stratifying risk is “too complicated.” So they make it simple for their docs. How convenient for the drug companies. I suspect that because this organization has such an aggressive general policy, the drug companies reward them handsomely for taking such a progressive position. They can offer about $50,000 more per year than doctors working in their own, independent offices.

HMSA is Hawaii’s largest medical insurance company. They are paying me to prescribe statins to people who have had heart attacks. Next year, they will pay me to prescribe statins to every single one of my diabetic patients. If I don’t I may loose about $20,000 and my entire group will be penalized financially as well. [Update: As of July 22, thanks in part to consumer concerns, HMSA has scrapped the plan to require all diabetics get statins. Thank you, Hawaii, for your help. And thank you HMSA for listening!]

If any of this disturbs you, please write to John Berthiaume MD, HMSA Vice President/Medical Director. 818 Keeaumoku Street, Honolulu, HI 96814 and tell him what you think. Or, you can write to the medical director of your own insurance company and let them know what you think about your payments going into programs that force doctors to write bad prescriptions or loose money!

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This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Hi Dr. Cate,
    After reading about this latest move by the AAP to harm children by giving them statins when clinical trials haven’t been even been done to prove any benefit to children, my heart sank. Statins cause congestive heart failure, activates the atrogin-1 gene that destroys muscles (like the heart muscle), depletes the brain and nerves from much needed cholesterol leading to memory loss and other nerve damage, harms the kidneys and liver, etc. Advising statins for children is downright criminal and reflects how low a group of pediatricians will stoop just to please the drug companies.

  2. I was on Lovastatin 40 mg for six months before memory loss-began . It increased but I didn’t realize it until I saw a tiny sidebar in a magazine that said “Women on a statin who notice memory loss see Dr. Beatrice Golumb research UC San Diego.” I found such confirmation that I called my Dr. and said I was cutting dose in half. Dr. said never heard of such symptom. Another 8 months I had all old injuries flaring up, terrible pain in feet and worse memory loss, unsteadiness, all muscle weakeness , dry skin , hair, sore throat. Told Dr. I am off this poison for good, and told everyone I knew. Twenty seven people told me they or someone they knew had these symptoms-varying degrees of response from “I quit it “, to “My Dr. says that’s nonsense”. I could not believe the earlier article re giving it to children-horrifying, and was stunned to see your letter. (Also at idea of giving to everyone w/monetary incentive) People do not connect these symptoms to statin, do not know that Zetia is half Statin, refuse to believe Dr. would prescribe if causing symptoms, even as they admit to them and attribute to “old age”. I have been at a loss to know how I can spread this information.

  3. Wow! Great information. I found out about your website in today’s paper under “letters to the Editor”. My mom is on a statin as well as just being diagnosed with diabetes. I forwarded your website to her.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thanks for posting at NYtimes … I will do this. This is absolutely ridiculous and I commend you for your work.

    After reading Taubes and learning about low carb/high fat/un-demonizing saturated fat I feel like a crusader but what can you do. Care to post anything about low carb approach to heart health?

  5. Hi Catey,

    I always suspected that the drug dealers were doing something like that in the US. It’s almost as bad in Canada but less overt. There must be some way to stop this corruption.

    Excellent information in the rest of the blog. I’ve added your blog to my blogroll at

    http://medicalmyths.wordpress.com/

    Keep up the good work,

    Colin Rose, MD
    Cardiologist
    McGill University

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