Jarvik Heart and Lipitor by jeffrey dach

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Dec 28, 2006, 3:22:44 PM12/28/06
Perhaps you have seen the full page ads with Dr. Robert Jarvik,
inventor of the Jarvik Artificial Heart as a spokesman for Lipitor.
Lipitor is an anti-cholesterol drug from Pfizer with 13 billion dollars

in sales last year. It was the best selling statin drug, the best
selling drug in the world, and most prescribed drug in the U.S. Jarvik

is best known for the 1982 media circus about Dr. Barney Clark, who
died after being tethered to the Jarvik Heart for 112 days. The new
revised Jarvik Heart is approved for use in heart transplant

Dr. Jarvik's endorsement might help Lipitor maintain market share
against competing name brand statin drugs. However, the big problem is

that Zocor's patent will eventually expire, allowing a cheaper
generic statin drug to enter the market. Instead of three dollars a
pill for Lipitor, your generic statin drug will cost one dollar a pill.

Insurance plans are salivating at the potential cost savings which
will be enormous. Pfizer's ad campaign to encourage loyalty to
Lipitor is only the beginning of the drug wars. Over the next five
years, 70 more drugs go off patent to be replaced by the cheaper

A recent poll reported by the New York Times showed only 9 percent of
Americans believe that drug companies can be trusted. Addressing this
issue directly, Dr. Jarvik says "he trusts Lipitor to help keep his
heart healthy". Dr. Jarvik implies that he takes Lipitor, and he
does not report to us muscle pain, weakness or memory loss commonly
described as side effects of the drug. One message board alone,
www.rxlist.com/rxboard.htm, lists four thousand messages posted by
people with statin drug side effects easily avoided by supplementing
with a vitamin called CoQ-10 available at most drug stores and health
food stores.

Why would Pfizer select a medical doctor like Dr. Jarvik for this
endorsement? A mechanical heart with a past history of media
notoriety and a drug that lowers cholesterol seem to have little in
common. In a flash of medical insight, the connection between statin
drugs and the Jarvik Heart suddenly occurred to me. Eight controlled
clinical trials have shown that statin drugs (such as Lipitor) deplete
the heart of an important vitamin called Co-Q10. This depletion in
turn has been shown to cause cardiac dysfunction leading to heart
failure. Deaths from heart failure have doubled nationwide since the
introduction of statin drugs in 1987. A fraction of these heart
failure patients will go on to cardiac transplantation and receive the
Jarvik Heart as a temporary measure. So in this bizarre fashion, the
Jarvik Heart is a beneficiary of the statin drug industry.

Instead of Dr. Jarvik, a more convincing Lipitor spokesman, in my
opinion, would be the Harvard trained John Abramson, M.D., author of
Overdosed America, The Broken Promise of American Medicine, and How the

Pharmaceutical Companies Distort Medical Knowledge, Mislead Doctors and

Compromise Your Health. (available at www.overdosedamerica.com). He
no doubt would have given us realistic information about statin drug
research. He would have told us, for example, that statin drug use in
healthy people without heart disease and in the elderly is still under
question. And, although there is a benefit from the drug in middle aged

men with known heart disease, a mortality benefit for women has never
been shown by any statin drug study. drdash drdach drdoch desk dash

I would run to the corner drugstore and buy Lipitor for myself had Dr.
Duane Graveline agreed to do the endorsement instead of Jarvik. You
can't find anyone more popular than Dr. Graveline, a NASA astronaut
and an M.D. who wrote two books on Lipitor. His first book is Lipitor,

Thief of Memory. His new book, Statin Drug Side Effects and the
Misguided War on Cholesterol is available at: www.spacedoc.net.

Jeffrey Dach MD

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