Another Alternative Medication Bites the Dust
Posted: 22 March 2009 04:20 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I’m on Lipitor, one of a class of statins that lower cholesterol and lipid blood levels.  The rest are fine, but the LDL is still a bit high.  A friend mentioned that his doctor (in an HMO) said he understood that even though it’s not a recognized treatment, red rice yeast has been effective in lowering LDL.  That was interesting so I checked and saw it was available as an over the counter item in a local pharmacy.  I then went on the Internet to find if there had been any studies.  Sure enough, the results were validated.  However, when the material was analyzed to find what component was responsible for this lowering they found that the process of fermentation by the particular yeast produced another of the statin drugs.  This made the material subject to FDA regulation.  The fermentation process was modified so it no longer produces that statin so it could still be sold OTC.

Two comments:  1.  It wasn’t an interesting alternative drug, just an interesting way of producing one of the already available statins.  2.  Now that it has no effect, it’s popularity is riding on the earlier results and large amounts are still being sold at high prices.

Occam

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Posted: 22 March 2009 07:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I actually have a notice hanging in all of my exam rooms about this drug. I was finding that a lot of patients were taking it and not telling me. They didn’t realize that it has all the same potential side effects as a statin drug. Yet they were taking it without any of the monitoring that doctors usually do when their patients are on a statin. Things like this are very frustrating. That people are afraid to take a well studied and effective drug like Lipitor or any of the other statins, but think their doing something safer by putting a completely unknown substance in their bodies which has not been proven to be either safe or effective. It never ceases to amaze me what stupid things people do sometimes. I wish I could say I am surprised that a doctor actually recommended this product to your friend, but unfortunately not all doctors are scientists even in the most basic sense.

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For every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, obvious,.... and just plain wrong

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