WOMEN'S HEALTH
October 14, 2008

Statins, Not For Women?

Cholesterol-lowering statins like Lipitor® may not work for women, according to a new study. For men, the picture is different...

Statins are cholesterol lowering drugs. They are prescribed because lowering cholesterol in people with high cholesterol is thought to decrease their risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack. Up to now, statins have been prescribed without regard to gender — both to men and women.

A recent study may change this. The study showed statins to be effective for men but ineffective for women.

According to the results, there doesn't appear to be any reason to for women to take statins.

Theodore Eisenberg of Cornell Law School and Martin T. Wells of Cornell University performed a meta−analysis of several studies on the effect of statins. That is, they performed a statistical analysis of previous studies as opposed to conducting their own study. They were particularly interested in the statin Lipitor®, because of certain advertising claims made by the drug's manufacturer, Pfizer. Lipitor® has been the top selling drug in the world and has accounted for over $12 billion dollars in annual sales. Four different trials of statins were found suitable for the meta−analysis, including Pfizer's own clinical trial of Lipitor®.

According to the results, there doesn't appear to be any reason to for women to take statins.

The results were published in the September 5, 2008 Journal of Empirical Legal Studies. The study's findings not only do not support statin use to reduce heart attacks in women, but also do not support "approving or advertising statins as reducing heart attacks without qualification in a population that includes many women."

Pfizer states on Lipitor®'s labeling that the results of their own clinical trial were inconclusive for women. However, in their advertising for Lipitor®, they make claims of cardioprotection without making mention of gender.

The authors' final word on statins: "Our findings indicate that each year reasonably healthy women spend billions of dollars on drugs in the hope of preventing heart attacks but that scientific evidence supporting their hope does not exist."

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