Pravastatin sodium (Lipostat in the UK, Pravachol in the US), one of a new breed of statin cholesterol lowering drugs, is using a different marketing ploy to increase the drug’s market share flattery.

A new advertising campaign follows the line that pravastatin is the logical choice for someone with a logical, scientific mind in other words, your family doctor.

The drug was given an enormous boost by the findings of the West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study (WOSCOPS), which involved 6,595 men aged between 45 and 64 who had never suffered a heart attack. The men were either given the drug, a change of diet or a placebo.

The drug was found to reduce the rate of a first heart attack by 31 per cent, compared with the other two groups and, as the trial was the “gold standard” double blind, placebo variety, it was a result to satisfy the most scientific of minds (Circulation 1995; 92: 2419-25).

So successful was the trial, in fact, that now over half of all patients on the drug are women. A few, probably completely unscientific, commentators pointed out that any success recorded in men could not necessarily be automatically translated to women.

And others, probably with hopelessly illogical minds, found that the group in the trial who were not given the drug seemed to suffer a far higher incidence of heart attack than the average. So were these people less healthy than the average, thus unfairly boosting the beneficial effects of the drug? A foolish question, of course, no doubt framed by someone far better at woodwork than science at school.

Then there are the adverse reactions that the drug can cause, such as heart pains, skin rashes, heartburn and fatigue, and the logic of choosing pravastatin becomes overwhelming, if not scientific.

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Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

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