Kids grow up so fast.
And these days, children are being given their first adult meds before they’ve even had their first kiss.
The European Union just signed off on a crazy plan to give Pfizer’s statin, Lipitor, to kids as young as 10 years old. And it will come in its most frightening form yet: A chewable tablet, like the Pez candy from hell.
It’s a big win for Pfizer–and not just because of the millions of kids who will become lifelong customers. The new approval in Europe also means the company will have a chance to extend the med’s patent protection–which runs out next year–by up to six months there.
And while six months may not sound like a long time, it’s a lot of money–Lipitor generates roughly $1 billion a month.
Wouldn’t you like to earn cash that fast?
But what’s even crazier about this one is that the Europeans are merely following the example we set nearly a decade ago here in the United States–because the FDA approved Lipitor for our kids back in 2002.
And since then, statin use among American children has been quietly on the rise.
Last year, U.S. pediatricians wrote nearly 3 million prescriptions for cholesterol meds for kids… and 2.3 million of them were for statins, according to new numbers in Consumer Reports. That figure doesn’t include kids who may gotten their meds from family docs or specialists–so the real number could be much, much higher.
And whether kids get the candy-coated statin in Europe or the usual form here in the United States, they’re getting a lot more than their parents ever bargained for–because despite what Big Pharma claims in its marketing material, statins are anything but "safe and well-tolerated."
It seems that every few weeks, a new study reveals side effects that are both worse and more common than anyone has admitted–and I’ve told you about some of them. Statins have been linked to debilitating and even permanent muscle pain and damage, liver dysfunction, kidney failure and cataracts.
As bad as those side effects are in adults, no one knows how much worse they could be in kids–because no one knows what will happen to someone who spends a lifetime on these meds, starting before even puberty.
And remember, once you’re on statins, you’re supposed to stay on them forever. That’s bad enough when you start in your 40s or 50s. But when you start at 10 years old, that means you could be on these drugs for 60, 70, 80 years or more–if you live that long.
The sad part of this is that everyone–kids and adults alike–is capable of controlling his or her own cholesterol levels, without meds, through simple, common- sense lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise.
Edward Martin is a health journalist who writes about today's most pressing health issues. He chronicles the most cutting-edge alternative methods for beating everything from diabetes to cancer and reports on the latest FDA foul-ups and Big Pharma conspiracies.