JUPITER Study Findings Hardly Exciting
Crestor Results Revealed
When data from the JUPITER study was released at the American Heart
Association (AHA)
Scientific Sessions, a bang of excitement was heard round the world with
headlines that blazed
Heart Attack Risk Lowered More that 50% By Taking Crestor,” a
statin drug made by
Reported widely by the New York Times, the Associated Press, the
Washington Post, CNN, and
Time, among others is attributable to the marketing strategy of Crestor’s
AstraZenca rather than any significance in the findings.
Before anyone rushes to add statin drug
s to lower the risk of heart
attacks when their heart
shows no sign of disease, let’s take a close look at the findings for they
reveal a more important
discovery, one I saw in 5,000 heart surgery patients, inflammation, the real
cause of heart
The study intended to assess whether prescribing statin therapy to
apparently healthy
individuals with normal LDL cholesterols but elevated C-reactive protein
levels (CRP 2.0 mg/L)
was advisable. C-reactive protein is a marker that determines the level of
in the
1.9 Years, 17,802 Men And Women
To qualify for the study patients had to be apparently healthy, have normal
cholesterol but with
an elevated CRP. Over 1.9 years, 17,802 men over 60 and women over 50
were treated with
one-half receiving 20 mg. of Crestor daily and the other half receiving a
placebo. AstraZenica,
the manufacturer of Crestor, funded the study when Pfizer declined to do so.
As many noted after release of the findings, even though patients were
classified as healthy,
many had a number of cardiovascular risk factors such as overweight with
the median bodymass
index (BMI) of 28.3 kg/m2. It would be unfair to say these patients had no
other risk
Very few individuals have ideal risk factors, including LDL-cholesterol levels.
Many have
suggested ideal LDL-cholesterol levels, based on hunter-gatherer societies
and non-human
primates are likely in the range of 50 to 60 mg/dL.
The benefit to treatment of patients as well as any changes to public-health
policy depends on
the absolute benefit and not the relative risk reduction. This is very
important in assessing the
significance of the results. The risk of having a heart attack in the placebo
group was 1.8%. The
risk in the group treated with Crestor was .09% for a real reduction of .9%
also called the
absolute risk deduction.
While this is a 50% reduction in relative risk, the actual real difference is less
than 1%. This does
not mean 50% reduced the risk of heart disease as many headlines stated.
[emphasis added]
Despite the marketing madness that went on across the internet, media,
radio and news
stations attesting to the magnificence of the findings, only one person out of
120 patients
treated over 1.9 years avoided a heart attack. I want to repeat that for
emphasis-only one
person out of 120 avoided a heart attack.
If it takes treating 120 people with a drug to prevent one heart attack, there
is nothing in this
study to generate this much excitement or use statin therapy preventatively
unless you are the
drug company anticipating astronomical sales.
New England Journal Of Medicine
Dr. Mark Hlatky reporting in the New England Journal of Medicine, wrote, “The
relative risk
reductions achieved with the use of statin therapy in JUPITER were clearly
significant. How the
absolute difference in risk are more clinically important than relative
reductions in risk in
deciding whether to recommend drug therapy since the absolute benefits of
treatment must be
large enough to justify the associated risks and costs.
The proportion of participants with hard cardiac events in JUPITER was
reduced from 1.8% (157
of 8,901 subjects) in the placebo group to .09% (83 of 8,901 subjects) in the
rosuvastatin group;
thus, 120 participants were treated for 1.9 years to prevent one
[emphasis added]
The Exorbitant Cost
The cost for treating 120 people with Crestor is $3.45 a day or $266,616.00
for 1.9 years-an
exorbitant amount of money to prevent one event.
In addition to this cost, there would be the cost of 2,520 doctor’s visits with
2,520 cholesterol
tests. What JUPITER revealed is only one person avoided a heart attack and
there were
significant side effects in the increase in people who developed diabetes and
The patients all began with normal cholesterol and markers for inflammation.
The finding in
the study that has far more significance is the reduction shown in
inflammation. Cholesterol in
the patients began within normal range so reducing it further is not the
reason there was a
small reduction in risk; rather, the reduction in inflammation was
accountable for the small
difference in heart attack rates.
I am all in favor of prevention and do not want anyone to have a heart attack
but once again,
medicine, under the influence of drug companies, takes the wrong and
most expensive
. AstraZenica stock is up 45% since the news and they expect to
double the sales of
Crestor from 3 billion to 6 billion dollars annually in the next few years-great
news if you hold
the stock, not so great for really preventing heart disease or controlling costs
of health care.
Let’s Be Truthful
If Astra were honest, they would ask the FDA for permission to market
Crestor as an antiinflammatory
for the blood vessels-a much better use of statin drugs but expensive.
this study showed only a small benefit, it does re-confirm that inflammation
is the cause of
heart disease
. The cholesterol theory, while exceedingly false, is the
dogma of the day and it is
time for truth and fact in medicine.
There are alternatives to statin therapy to reduce inflammation and in turn,
prevent and cure
heart disease; alternatives that do not involve drug therapy and yet have a
higher absolute
reduction in cardiac deaths. The medical community fails to acknowledge the
alternatives that are much more effective than drugs, less remunerative of
course, but with
astounding reductions in cardiac deaths through treating inflammation.
The DART trial showed a 62% reduction in cardiac deaths by taking fish oil.
Fish oil has proven
repeatedly to reduce CRP and other signs of inflammation. Another trial, The
Healthy Study showed a 90% reduction in sudden cardiac death with fish oil;
once again, not
risk but actual reduction. Another, the GISSI trial, showed an absolute
reduction in deaths by
taking fish oil and a 47% reduction in sudden cardiac deaths. These are not
risk numbers but
real reductions.
The most significant and overlooked results of the JUPITER study that
confirms the findings in
DART, GISSI and The Physicians Health Study is that the reduction in
inflammation was
responsible for decreasing the risk of heart disease. The patients’ all had
normal cholesterol
when the study began; reduction in cholesterol was not responsible for the
small decrease in
As a physician who performed 5,000 heart surgeries and saw inflammation in
the arteries of
every patient, it is maddening when medicine ignores simple things such as
fish oil that are
much more effective than drugs. In terms of cost, the simple alternatives
that are highly
effective range from $50 to $100 per month.
There is no comparison to health, or to the wallet, in terms of these
alternatives and the
exorbitant cost of statin therapy for cholesterol when cholesterol is not the
cause of heart
disease. However, it is noteworthy there is a benefit to statin therapy in that
it has some
impact upon inflammation but at a much higher cost than fish oil.
Treat inflammation and the absolute risk of heart disease not only decreases,
heart disease is
preventable and curable.


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