DRUGS - The Top 2 for 2011 - 2012*
Each year, the Commonwealth of Australia (Drug Utilisation Sub-Committee Database) provides details of the top 10 subsidised drugs by prescription counts and cost to the Government. This information is published in the Australian Prescriber. Those for 2011 - 2012 were set out in Volume 15: Number 6: December 2012.
The 'Top 10 Drugs' have been discussed previously in my newsletters of February 2007, January 2008, January 2009 and February 2010. Because there was very little variation in the Top 10, they were not the subject of a newsletter in the last two years.
This newsletter will only look at No.1 and No.2 of the Top 10 for 2011-2012.
The defined daily dose (DDD/thousand population/ day) shows how many people in every thousand Australians are taking the standard dose of a drug every day.
Prescriptions PBS/RPBS does not include private prescriptions or prescriptions under PBS co-payment.
Atorvastatin is the generic name and is marketed by Pfizer as Lipitor. The patent on this drug expired in November 2011 and the generic form is now available.
Rosuvastatin is the generic name and is marketed by AstraZeneca as Crestor. The patent on this drug does not expire until 2016.
Lipitor and Crestor are statin drugs.
'Statins' are a class of drugs used to treat high cholesterol levels in the blood. Statins act by blocking the enzymes responsible for the conversion of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutarte to mevalonate, which is the rate limiting step of cholesterol synthesis. For more details, see my August 2009 newsletter Statins - Adverse Effects.
There are clear guidelines for the prescribing of these drugs. They are spelt out in detail by the manufacturers, as well as in publications such as MIMS Australia (published by UBM Medica Australia, see www.mims.com.au). Criteria are set out to determine patient eligibility for subsidisation under the PBS (pharmaceutical benefits scheme). In writing a PBS prescription, the prescriber is certifying that the patient satisfies the qualifying criteria.
Consistently over the years, the Top 10 drugs have included at least two statin drugs. In the year July 2011 - June 2012, the numbers 1 and 2 of the Top 10 were statins. The cost to the government (the tax payer) of these two was A$975,140,752, almost a billion dollars! There were almost 18 million prescriptions and 121 people in every 1000 Australians were the recipients and taking the standard dose every day.
In my newsletter referred to above, the adverse side effects of statin drugs were detailed.
What are the Benefits of Statin Drugs?
Dr David Newman published an article in June 2010 entitled Statin Drugs Given for 5 Years for Heart Disease Prevention (Without Known Heart Disease) (see www.thennt.com/statins-for-heart-disease-prevention-without-prior-heart-disease). Full details of the source material for the following numbers are provided as well as discussion.
"In summary, for those who took the statin for 5 years:
In other words:
Dr Newman concludes that whether statins are an appropriate choice for primary prevention may be best left to individual preference. He believes that "benefits are best-case and harms may well be underestimated." He believes that diabetes, a chronic condition with serious long term morbidity, is more important to avoid for most patients than a single event such as a nonfatal heart attack or stroke. He believes that lifestyle interventions [weight loss, diet, exercise] are substantially more powerful than statin medications in achieving cardiovascular benefits, and come without harm.
How Important is Cholesterol in the Genesis of Heart Disease and Stroke?
The following myths regarding cholesterol were published in a December 2012 newsletter issued from www.naturalhealthsherpa.com.
Statin drugs are estimated to be a $25 billion industry.
The unnecessary prescribing of statins in Australia, in the majority of people, is placing a significant burden on the government.
A lifestyle that includes reaching then maintaining the correct weight (BMI of less than 25), a diet that is dominantly (at least 75%) made up of alkali-forming foods (see my September 2005 newsletter Acid/Alkaline Balance- The Ideal Diet and my March 2009 newsletter Foods for Heath) and regular exercise will mean that there will be no indication for the prescribing of statin drugs in the majority of people.
Needless to say, fatty foods, especially transfats, and animal products with their saturated fats should not be a part of a healthy diet.
Unfortunately, lifestyle change is not easy to do and continue for life, but it is the way to health and longevity. See my book How to Live to 100+ Years Free from Symptoms and Disease (homepage). Drugs are a "quick fix" and do not give health. They but treat symptoms and generally do not address the cause.
Amazingly poor recommendations are being put forth concerning statin drugs, and the following are but three to illustrate:
The following book, published November 2012, is suggested reading: The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Cholesterol Won't Prevent Heart Disease and the Statin-Free Plan that Will. Authors: Jonny Bowden and Stephen Sinatra. (Available from www.bookdepository.co.uk and www.amazon.com)
*Copyright 2013: The Huntly Centre.
Disclaimer: All material in the huntlycentre.com.au website is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Consult a health professional regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations expressed herein, with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.