It’s important to understand that some of the monumental legislation being pondered by the present Administration will have real-world effects on things that might seem totally unrelated. Readers must understand that landmark, and rushed, legislation may very well directly affect them even when they think it won’t.

So let’s look at one piece of important news as an example…but then ask how you would be affected if health care reform was botched.

Our example is from the world of drug manufacturing. The second phase of a monumental pharmaceutical study were released a few days ago, and women everywhere must pay attention. For those who believed the myth that cardiovascular disease was not significant in women, and that the use of statins wouldn’t help women who might be at risk – this is a big wake-up call.

Pay attention: you are at risk and statins can be of enormous benefit. (And improper legislation may prevent women from having access to such a beneficial product).

What was the name of the study?

Justification for the Use of statins in Prevention: an Intervention Trial Evaluating Rosuvastatin. That’s JUPITER, for short.

Why was the study done?
1) Twice as many women die of cardiovascular events (CVE’s) than from all forms of cancer combined.
2) You don’t have to have high cholesterol to be at increased risk for CVE’s.
3) If you have glucose issues, you are at risk for diabetes and increased CVE risk.

Astra-Zeneca wanted to know if their drug, CRESTOR, could help these people.
This drug is a statin, which slows the rate that cholesterol is produced in the body.

What did the study measure?
The effects of 20mg of the drug on the risk of CVE’s.

Why was the study important?
1) Women previously weren’t considered candidates for statins. Now they are.
2) It was huge. 17,802 participants. 9,000 got the drug, of which 3,426 were women.
3) It was long-term, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled.

Dr. Benjamin Ansell, MD FACC, Assoc Prof of Medicine, UCLA School of Medicine, sums it up. “This is an important study as it not only included significant representation by women, but it identified a strategy whereby their leading cause of death – heart disease – could be minimized.

What were the results?

76% of women, 60 and over, had arterial revascularization. In other words, the clogged arteries of most of these women were cleared out.

Even if a woman doesn’t actually have CV disease, but is at increased risk from other factors, the drug reduced the risk of CVE’s by 46%.

For the 4,100 patients whose LDL fell below 50mg/dL because of this drug, they experienced a whopping 63% reduction in CVE’s.

What this means for women

Statins aren’t just for women who have cardiovascular disease. They aren’t just for women with high cholesterol. They are for any woman who exhibits certain risk factors.

The bottom line, therefore, is that statins can make a huge difference in prevention. Dr. Ansell says, “Considering that women have a higher likelihood of their first heart attack being fatal than men, are less prone to get as aggressive care during a heart attack as men, and have fewer premonitory symptoms than men, prevention is particularly key among this group. The aggressive use of statins among this group of women whose risk was not previously recognized and who were not considered candidates for cholesterol medications saved lives here. It puts in better perspective the balance between risk and benefit in this population.”

What this might mean for women

So here we have just one example of a powerful new drug that really saves lives. What might health care legislation do to the availability of this drug? My concern is that this particularly effective drug might not be available because other options would be cheaper for the government to select. Let’s remember, any government-run plan is not going to be the Deluxe Luxury Package. It’s taxpayer money being used.

What might happen if the government doesn’t agree to pay a good price for the most effective drugs in a given category. There’s nothing that forces a drug company to take the deal, but if health reform results in any de facto price cap, then drug companies may not have enough revenue to continue their R&D work. Or they may have to let workers go. You can never look at a company’s profit, executive salary, or product cost in a vacuum. You must look at the entire company, and even the sector, and figure out how to let them do what they do best, while serving the maximum number of people possible.

So we must be forever-vigilant about every aspect of the health care legislation. Will it do what it intends? In my experience, consumers are harmed more than helped anytime government gets too involved.

Be Sociable, Share!