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Top-selling Cholesterol Drug Does Little For Women, Study Suggests

Date:
September 18, 2008
Source:
Wiley-Blackwell
Summary:
Lipitor has been the top-selling drug in the world and has accounted for over $12 billion in annual sales. It has been prescribed to both men and women to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients with common risk factors for heart disease. However, a new study was unable to find high quality clinical evidence documenting reduced heart attack risk for women in a primary prevention context.

Lipitor has been the top-selling drug in the world and has accounted for over $12 billion in annual sales. It has been prescribed to both men and women to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients with common risk factors for heart disease.

However, a new study appearing in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies was unable to find high quality clinical evidence documenting reduced heart attack risk for women in a primary prevention context. Furthermore, advertising omits label information relevant to women.

Theodore Eisenberg of Cornell Law School and Martin T. Wells of Cornell University assembled studies for a meta analysis of drugs’ effects on cardiovascular risk, taking into account all relevant studies reporting risks for both men and women.

Not one of the studies that included women with a mixture of risk factors for heart attacks provided statistically significant support for prescribing Lipitor or other statins to protect against cardiovascular problems. Pfizer’s claims of clinical proof that Lipitor reduces risk of heart attack in patients with multiple risk factors for heart disease does not appear to be scientifically supported for large segments of the female population.

In addition, Lipitor’s advertising repeatedly fails to report that clinical trials were statistically significant for men but not for women. Unqualified advertising claims of protection against heart attacks may therefore be misleading. Pfizer’s advertising also does not disclose critical portions of the Lipitor FDA-approved label, which acknowledges the absence of evidence with respect to women.

“Our findings indicate that each year, reasonably healthy women spend billions of dollars on drugs in the hope of preventing heart attacks but that scientific evidence supporting their hope does not exist,” the authors conclude.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Theodore Eisenberg and Martin T. Wells. Statins and Adverse Cardiovascular Events in Moderate-Risk Females: A Statistical and Legal Analysis with Implications for FDA Preemption Claims. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, 2008; 5 (3): 507 DOI: 10.1111/j.1740-1461.2008.00132.x

Cite This Page:

Wiley-Blackwell. "Top-selling Cholesterol Drug Does Little For Women, Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080917145147.htm>.
Wiley-Blackwell. (2008, September 18). Top-selling Cholesterol Drug Does Little For Women, Study Suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080917145147.htm
Wiley-Blackwell. "Top-selling Cholesterol Drug Does Little For Women, Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080917145147.htm (accessed April 21, 2014).

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