Last week the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology issued new guidelines for cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. Those guidelines direct doctors to prescribe the drugs to millions of patients who previously didn’t need them.
Most statins are generic now, and some have argued that because of that, the new guidelines can’t be a pharmaceutical cash grab. I’m no math whiz (Brockton High Mathlete, 1994-1997), but if their margins are small, a way to boost profit out of a generic drug would be to increase the volume sold, perhaps by expanding the patient pool by a couple million or so. I was only med-school adjacent in college, but it turns out that these guidelines also set off doctors’ bullshit detectors over the weekend.
I’m not doubting the efficacy of statin drugs for those who truly need them. Like all medications, they come with benefits and side effects that should be carefully considered by patients and their doctors. Since we live in a world where most of us can’t afford to eat healthy or have the time to exercise, pharmaceuticals may be the only way we can combat heart disease until society starts to value our health over our productivity and contributions to GDP.