Pravastatin, the cholesterol lowering drug, is no better than placebo, a leading heart specialist has concluded. For every case of heart attack the drug prevents, 316 patients would have to be treated.
Dr Frank Meyer from the Otto von Guericke University in Magdeburg, Germany, says that to achieve this one success, 315 patients would be "burdened with a medication, the dangers of which cannot be foreseen. . .over a period of 20 to 30 years."
He was criticising the findings of a study into the effectiveness of Pravastatin, which had claimed the drug was so clearly beneficial that heart specialists' reticence to use cholesterol lowering therapy such as Pravastatin was not acceptable.
Far better to live a healthy life, eat a varied diet, indulge in physical activity, do not smoke and have adequate social integration, concludes Dr Meyer (N Eng J Med 1999; 340: 1116).