Cholesterol Guidelines: Fraught With Massive Conflict of Interest
The government received new cholesterol guidelines from an influential medical group of doctors. However, it was discovered that eight of these nine doctors have been making money from the companies of the cholesterol-lowering drugs they have been pushing upon millions of Americans. Ironically enough it was revealed that:
- Two of the doctors own stock in drug companies
- Two went to work for drug companies after working on the guidelines
- One was a senior government scientist who moonlights for 10 drug companies (and serves on one of their boards)
Drug companies are trying to get the government’s approval on allowing some controversial statin drugs, such as Lipitor and Zocor, to be sold over the counter. With doctors urging approvals such as these, many feel as though the credibility of doctors is being compromised. These findings also raise many questions as to whether their advice is based in the best interest of the public.
High cholesterol can be found in more than half of Americans. Statin drugs claim to drop cholesterol dramatically and almost overnight, so it is no surprise people are continuing to listen to their doctor’s advice.
A conflict of interest also results from the fact that two-thirds of the medical research at universities is funded by private industries. Further, all trials of statin drugs have been funded by companies, not the government. With the drug industry having spent $2 billion in 2001 on doctor events, critics ask if all the money floating around medicine has created a pattern of corruption.
However, financial conflict is not the only concern.
Another concern addressed the process of “group think,” which consists of strictly the thoughts and opinions of cardiologists. This poses a problem, as it leads to extremely one-sided decisions.
USA Today October 16, 2004