Here are the headlines some "healthcare journalists" wrote today:
Pfizer: Lipitor Safer Than Generic Zocor - Forbes/AP
Lipitor Zocor Switch Can Be Deadly - Dog Flu Diet and Diseases
These headlines were created by journalists who spend their days regurgitating company press releases, without expending a singel critical thought on what they are reporting.
It all started with Pfizer's press release at 2 AM this morning: Patients Who Switched from Established Lipitor Therapy to Simvastatin Experienced a Significant 30 Percent Increase in Relative Risk of Cardiovascular Events or Death, New Observational Study Shows.
And yes, this is what the Pfizer-funded observational study shows. It used a database of 11,000 patients in Britain, and was presented at the annual European Society of Cardiology congress today. According to this "study," patients switching from Pfizer's expensive, branded cholesterol pill Lipitor to Merck & Co's cheap generic Zocor were much more likely to have a heart attack or die.
There is only one teeny weeny problem. The most common reason for switching drugs is because the therapy doesn't work; when the drugs don't have the desired effect. So it is completely expected that patients who were forced to switch had a worse outcome. They may simply be treatment resistant.
And Pfizer knows this.
That's the reason they use a weasel-sentence in their press release, hidden deep inside the text, saying "As with all observational studies, the findings should be regarded as hypothesis generating."
Hypothesis generating is what they say. You ain't gonna find that word in the news articles, because, well, then this wouldn't really be news, would it?
The Pfizer press release helpfully mentions, "Reasons for switching were not available from the database. "
A secondary analysis of the same data also showed that patients who were switched from Lipitor to Zocor were more than twice as likely to discontinue their treatment. So, of course if they weren't taking their meds, they didn't respond to the first drug, docs switched them, and they continued to do worse because THEY STOPPED TAKING THEIR MEDS!
Lies, damned lies, observational trials. And the morons who write about them.