Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
Stop those Statins!
Almost everyone who took statins suffered not one but multiple side-effects
 
“It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.”— Noël Coward, Blithe Spirit
 
Statins are the most sold, most talked about, yet, the most dangerous chemicals, used in Western medical therapeutics only to get a ‘better’ lipid profile report of hapless, unsuspecting humans—dubbed as patients—, because they have lots of patience to bear with all the physical insults that we inflict on them. 
 
Medical students are now taught that statins are the best bet to get a patient’s lipid profile back to ‘normal’. They have to regurgitate this theory in the exams to get their coveted degrees. Some teachers at Harvard University were shown to be on the payroll of statin manufacturers. Drug barons took bets on their sales and spent a billion dollars in one year on advertisements and doctor hospitality to net just about $13 billion in one year itself!  
 
The CEO of a company was the happiest at his success. Almost every patient who took statins suffered not one but many side-effects, symptomatic (like muscle pain and muscle loss) or asymptomatic (like liver damage, muscle damage, kidney damage, brain damage and what have you). 
 
An Australian study revealed that every patient on statins suffered muscle damage right from the beginning! The scariest part of the whole saga is that these companies knew that statins destroy the liver’s normal function. Liver produces cholesterol to keep us alive and healthy, as cholesterol forms the cell membrane of every human cell of 120 trillion in all that we have. Billions of them die a natural death (apoptosis) daily to be replaced by new cells. The raw material for the new cell membrane (wall) has to come from the liver, our body’s cholesterol manufacturing centre. 
 
The JUPITER (Justification for the Use of Statins in Primary Prevention: An Intervention Trial Evaluating Rosuvastatin trial) study, one of the largest studies in the conventional sense, revealed that statins had not passed the litmus test. Interestingly, brakes were applied on the study by a major drug manufacturer mid-way.
 

Most Sold Drug

One of the largest studies of statins in the world—a meta-analysis of 113,394 patients—showed that between 7%-27% of patients on statins will become diabetics in one year. In a randomised control trial (RCT), done long before the drug was certified for human use by the US Food and Drug Administration, Rosuvastatin (a commonly prescribed statin these days) was blamed for rhabdomyolysis (the rapid destruction of skeletal muscle tissue) in patients. How could that drug be licensed? Yet, it got the green signal from the FDA and went on to become the most sold drug! 
 
Be that as it may, the very connection between fat profile and heart disease is so shaky that if we went into it from one end to the other, many skeletons will stumble out of the regulatory body’s cupboards. The whole edifice of fat-diseases connection started with Ancel Key’s study. That study was badly sexed up and doctored to get positive connection where none existed. The rest of the story was built on that dry-sand foundation. 
 
Truth, unfortunately, is very lazy. By the time truth could pull up its pants to start the race, falsehood and mystery will have gone round the globe twice over! We might break our heads; but the powerful pharma lobby will prevail, truth notwithstanding. God save mankind from this unholy nexus between the drug manufacturers, the medical profession and the regulatory agencies. Thank God, the industry has not succeeded in getting statins put into drinking water supplies! However, they have put it into the controversial poly-pill—an alleged Rambaana (panacea) for all ills. Let’s hope for that utopia where truth prevails.

 

(Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS.)

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COMMENTS

Sathya Rau

2 years ago

I agree statins are not a Panacea. However, only a small segment of the population suffer from rhabdomyolisis which stops on discontinuing the drug. Rhabdomyolysis and elevated liverenzymes are clearly stated as a side-effect of the medication in the litrature. It is rash and irresponsible to sub-title this article "Almost everyone who took statins suffered not one but multiple side-effects"
Then to question the link between high cholesterol levels and heart disease, without substantial supportive arguments. True, pharmacutical industry is making obscene profits, they are not charitable organizations, are they. Everyone with hyperchlosterolemia has a choice- don't take statins ans save a bunch of money and accept the risk of heart attack and premature death.Or take statins, be poorer, and risk rhabdomyolisis and reduce the risk of a myocardial event.

R B UPADHYAY

2 years ago

Very useful information but what are alternative to statins. I too feel very uncomfortable after taking 10 mg statin, which doctors recommend but I take only 5 mg of Storvas.Kindly suggest some alternative for keeping Cholestral in control.

Ganesh Johnson

2 years ago

Dear Prof Dr. Hegde,

I am 100% with you on statins. I personally was prescribed statins a few years ago by my cardiologist, for borderline cholesterol levels (around 220), and i immediately suffered extreme bone and muscle pain. My cardio was sane enough to stop the statin medication and now during each visit he refuses to prescribe statins to me, and says that a borderline 220 level of cholesterol is associated with no cardiac risk, whereas the risk from statins is far higher.

Grey areas in insider trading regulations needs clarity: Experts
Corporate compliance officials hold that the new regulations have imposed some additional risks on them as a large community of outsiders including journalists, vendors, bankers and others have been included under the definition of the term insider
 
The Indian securities market regulator has to clarify certain grey areas such as whether the employee stock options (ESOP) is also covered by its new insider trading regulations that came into force on May 15, say legal and industry experts.
 
Corporate compliance officials hold that the new regulations have imposed some additional risks on them as a large community of outsiders including journalists, vendors, bankers and others have been included under the definition of the term insider.
 
"The old insider trading regulations expressly kept out ESOPs whereas the new regulations do not as per interpretations. Normally ESOP schemes are well-defined and it is an option to buy," S.Swaminathan, chief financial officer, Intellect Design Arena Ltd, told IANS.
 
"It should also be said any step towards improvement of corporate governance is welcome," he added.
 
Pratibha Jain, partner and head, regulatory practice, Nishith Desai Associates, told IANS that the Securities and Exchange Board of India has overhauled the insider trading regulations "with a view to provide a level playing field in the securities market and also to safeguard investor interest".
 
She also agreed that the ESOP issue is a grey area that SEBI has to address. According to her colleague Tanya Pahwa, the 1992 insider trading regulations had kept out ESOPs.
 
"Under the new regulations, the scope of the term 'insider' or a 'connected person' has been widened.
 
"Therefore, any person, whether or not related to the company, may come within the purview of the regulations if he is expected to have access or possess unpublished price sensitive information. Applicability of the regulations shall extend to unpublished price sensitive information in relation to a company as well as securities listed or proposed to be listed on a stock exchange," Jain said.
 
The new regulations - Securities and Exchange Board of India (Prohibition of Insider Trading) Regulations, 2015 - define an insider as any connected person or any person in possession of or have access to unpublished price sensitive information.
 
A connected person includes any person who is or has during the six months prior to the concerned act been associated with the company, including through frequent communication with its officers or as a director, officer, vendor and others with an access to unpublished price sensitive information.
 
The term connected persons include immediate relatives; holding/subsidiary or associate company; mutual fund; stock exchange or clearing house official; banker and others.
 
According to Intellect Design Arena's Swaminathan, a large third-party community has been included as insider and it is a challenge for listed companies to get disclosure compliance from them.
 
"Perhaps a monetary threshold level of dealing in securities should be stipulated by SEBI," he said.
 
The regulations will also extend to unpublished price sensitive information in relation to a company as well as securities listed or proposed to be listed on a stock exchange, Jain said.
 
"For the purpose of legitimate business transactions, access to unpublished price sensitive information, for instance, of due diligence, with appropriate safeguards has been explicitly provided for which shall avert the risk of any regulatory scrutiny in relation to such transactions," she said.
 
The board of directors of every listed company and market intermediary have to draw up a code of conduct to regulate, monitor and report trading by its employees and other connected persons in accordance with the regulations, she added.
 
Jain said the regulations further provide every other person who is required to handle unpublished price sensitive information in the course of business operations such as auditors, accountancy firms, law firms, analysts, consultants, other capital market participants and others are also required to draw up such a code of conduct.
 
Therefore, even entities that normally operate outside the capital market may be required to formulate such a code depending on their exposure to unpublished price sensitive information.
 
Also, every such person formulating a code of conduct is required to identify and designate a compliance officer to administer the same, Jain remarked.
 
"Trading in the security of the company is not permitted when trading window is closed on account of a unpublished price sensitive information. Further, pre-clearance is required for a trade exceeding Rs.10 lakh, even if the trading window is not closed."
 
The trading window is supposed to close for a company upon certain events like declaration of financial results and opened upon cooling-off period of 48 hour of relevant information becoming generally available.
 
The management, in addition to the penalty by the regulator, can also initiate disciplinary action against violators with steps that can include wage freeze, suspension, ineligibility for future participation in stock options and withholding of promotions.
 
"While the new regulations widen the ambit, a lot more investment in monitoring and surveillance needs to be made. Even globally it is not easy to catch insider trading. And which is why exemplary punishment needs to be handed out which would act as a strong deterrent," Pranav Haldea, managing director, Prime Database, told IANS.
 
Jain however noted that SEBI has an investigation arm responsible for looking into any alleged wrongdoings.
 
"Based on recent amendments to the SEBI Act, they also have power of search and seizure. SEBI investigation for insider trading is typically based on a tip or one of exchanges reporting unusual activity in trading of a stock," she said.

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Safe, Habitable or Smart? India's 100 Smart Cities must be all three
India clearly needs to morph its Smart Cities plan into one that lays equal emphasis on making our cities most habitable and safe
 
Each time there is a mention of Smart Cities in India, I get concerned about the safety of women because there is a surfeit of news stemming from the vulnerability of women in our cities. A few incidents that shook India recently, include:
 
* A police officer attacks an allegedly errant scooter-riding woman with a brick in India's capital.
 
* A 13-year-old girl pushed off a moving bus in Moga in Punjab along with her mother after they resisted molestation attempts.
 
* A young girl walking back home in Ludhiana is raped on International Women's Day, March 8.
 
These incidents paint the picture of cities unsafe for women and children on foot, in own vehicles or while using public transport.
 
From unsafe to unhealthy cities, India attracts attention. A recent UN study noted that the highest concentration of PM (particulate matter) 2.5 is in Indian cities. These tiny airborne particulates can increase the risk of heart disease and respiratory ailments. The PM 2.5 levels in the national capital New Delhi are so high that breathing the air for only a few hours can have an irreversible health impact.
 
These upsetting reports bring out the need for safer and more habitable cities before India builds 100 Smart Cities. Even though proponents of Smart Cities may argue that the choice is not between safe and habitable versus Smart Cities, the government clearly needs to take demonstrative action to instill confidence among women in India to restore a sense of safety.
 
India clearly needs to morph its Smart Cities plan into one that lays equal emphasis on making our cities most habitable and safe. While Smart Cities are necessary, the liveability aspect needs to get top priority. The recent, albeit temporarily halted, move by the National Green Tribunal to ban all over 10-year-old diesel vehicles from plying on Delhi roads is commendable. That perhaps is the only way to show to the rest of the country what needs to be done to make the country more habitable. One only hopes that its implementation does not lead to dilution.
 
At the same time, we urgently need a road infrastructure that does not hold up non-polluting vehicles on road a minute longer than is necessary. Once among most green Indian cities, Pune and Bangalore are now home to glass and concrete structures. Despite a salubrious climate and green spaces, these high-tech cities ranked 145th (Pune) and 146th (Bangalore) in the 2015 most liveable cities ranking by global consulting firm Mercer. Singapore, known for its standards of cleanliness, discipline and safety, at No.25 is the highest-ranking Asian city in the same listing.
 
Ranked the most liveable city for six consecutive years by Mercer, Vienna also won global recognition for being a Smart City by climate strategist Boyd Cohen. Vienna may offer a good benchmark for the most habitable city. In addition to being green and clean, the city is also Safe.
 
After its inauguration 150 years ago, Vienna remains the most well-planned and architected city. Unlike Indian cities, it follows a zero tolerance policy towards departure from sanctioned building plans - an area that needs stricter conformance in India.
 
The Austrian capital is a pedestrian-friendly, cycle-friendly city where lane discipline is observed almost like a religion. The differently-abled, wheel-chair borne and the most careless walker can traverse through pothole-free levelled roads.
 
Safe, Efficient and Reliable Public Transport
 
The next important element is an efficient transport system ensures that every part of the city is well connected. By deploying smart travel cards, it affords safe and convenient travel for women, those with children and elderly people by various modes, at any time of the day.
 
For safe, habitable and smart cities, India's public transport system needs to be scaled up to create options where most citizens prefer public transport to their private vehicles. The dependence on personal vehicles for work has to reduce. Movement on India's inadequate road infrastructure will become even tougher and unsustainable as it adds nearly two million vehicles a month.
 
Very few Indian cities can boast of roads that offer a safe journey to its inhabitants. Even though the recent budget allocation to the sector gives one the confidence that the road infrastructure will get created, it needs to be backed by an infrastructure that is safe, takes into account the future traffic needs and ensures that sidewalks are not dysfunctional.
 
Climate strategist Boyd Cohen says Smart City has to be much more than just a buzzword: it is the way of the future. A Smart City needs measures to radically reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and further optimize the public transportation network to deliver an even higher quality of life for many years to come.

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