Two months after the FDA approved the use of rosuvastatin calcium -- the prescription drug known by its far more popular trade name Crestor -- for millions of healthy Americans who have no cholesterol problems, health experts still remain very divided on the necessity of prescribing it.
Some are overjoyed the FDA took a preemptive step, based on scientific evidence culled from the JUPITER study published in 2008, in recommending that Crestor be prescribed to healthy folks with normal or near-normal cholesterol levels but elevated blood levels of C-reactive protein and at least one other risk factor (a family history of heart disease, smoking, high blood pressure).
Others, however, see it as merely promoting a faster track to better health with the help of just one more prescription drug -- albeit a very popular one without a generic equivalent -- while ignoring the real problem: Incorporating realistic changes into their lifestyles and sticking to them.
Despite my family's general poor health footprint, so far, I've been lucky enough to avoid taking a statin drug. If my doctor ever recommended that I take a daily pill for my cholesterol, I'd probably clean up my lifestyle habits that got me into trouble first before considering it (baby steps that I'm already taking, by the way).
My main concerns about taking one more drug mirror those of Dr. Mark Hlatky, a health research and policy expert and professor at Stanford University: It is so much easier to prescribe a drug than to change behavior, and that is my worry. We're heading down that road. Cardiovascular risk prevention is moving in the wrong direction.
A question for my readers: When faced with making a lifestyle change versus taking a pill, do you have any suggestions for making that transition to healthier living any easier, for the benefit of folks like me in the midst of doing it?
healthfinder.gov April 2, 2010
ABC News March 31, 2010
U.S. News & World Report March 1, 2010
New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 359, No. 21, pp. 2195-2207, November 21, 2008 Free Full Text Study