Do statins prevent cancer? We may never know

Today’s Wall Street Journal reports that statins might help prevent cancer, then lists four reasons we shouldn’t expect to see clinical trials in this area:

  • Statins are nearing the end of their patents. Patent holders (Pfizer, Merck, BMS) have little incentive to fund trials that won’t be done before their patents expire
  • Long-term trials in large populations could reveal currently unknown side effects. That’s what happened with Vioxx and hormone replacement therapy; drug makers are keen to avoid repeating those fiascoes
  • The (rumored) coming availability of over-the-counter statins would make it difficult to justify giving volunteers a placebo
  • Even if a preventive effect were demonstrated, FDA might still not approve the indication because safety standards for preventive measures are much higher than those for treatments

See Do Statins Help Prevent Cancer? Few Tests Slated by David P. Hamilton and Ron Winslow for the full article.

May 20, 2005

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