The term “Big Pharma” crops up regularly. It is very much a conspiracy theory much like “The moon landing was filmed in the Nevada desert” or “Prince Philip planned the death of Princess Diana”. For some reason many believe that pharmaceutical companies in league with the medical profession operate in some sinister manner and against the public good! With the advent of social media conspiracy theories gain traction faster than ever.
A good example is the negativity against statins. Whilst I will agree they have been over prescribed mainly for healthy middle aged and above people with no real cholesterol problem they have many benefits. These include lowering cholesterol (this may not occur in a minority of individuals), stabilising existing plaque and reducing irritation (often a precursor to plaque formation). Since their introduction the average age of patients undergoing a heart bypass has increased by a decade. Side effects have been reported so often in the media that many people prescribed statins report problems almost straight away. The problem is so bad that when a trial was carried out the percentage taking a placebo and reporting muscle aches was similar to those taking a statin. This is because people have virtually been programmed to believe they will get muscle problems. For those that genuinely do often a change of statin cures the problem.
Big Pharma is also quoted for supplements and/or extreme diets claimed to benefit heart disease when the results are queried. Drug testing/trials have come a long way since the days of Thalidomide and smoking beagles! These are often presented as facts despite a lack of rigor in the analysis of results – often by internet quacks!