Letters to the Editor
''$1BN BILL for obesity and heart drugs'' (September 22, p1) raises four issues. Firstly, back in the 1970s, studies showed that lowering cholesterol increased mortality.
These results have been repeated more recently.
We have one group of experts who discover and publish this information, and another group who make policies.
They ignore the research, demonise cholesterol and use my taxes to subsidise ''over-prescription'' (the word Professor Ric Day uses for current practice in the article).
We'd know if statins were having a benefit (despite increased mortality), if obesity and heart disease were declining.
An increase of 600 per cent in use over the last 18 years should provide enough data one way or the other.
The signs are not good.
There has not been a corresponding decline in obesity or heart conditions.
Our Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme needs total overhaul so new versions of drugs out of patent don't re-emerge under a new name at a higher price - a common pattern Ben Goldacre describes in his book Bad Pharma. By using any means to get PBS endorsement, the current suppliers keep cheaper drugs out of the market.
Australians pay a high price for allowing this to happen here more than in the UK and NZ. People there pay a fraction of the prices we pay here for off-patent drugs.
The side effects of statins are well-documented. Pancreatitis, muscle weakness, asthma, deafness, hepatitis, and increased risk of strokes - according to the product insert, these can occur after use of Lipitor, one of the most common statins prescribed in Australia, though not frequently. These should also be taken into account.
This ''pill to fix it up easy,'' should be taken with great caution. It does have dangers, and its benefits are not apparent. It is very hard to see why it should be subsidised at all in Australia.
Jenny Hobson, Spence
THE HEADLINE, ''Addicted to fat pills'', fails to clarify to whom it refers, but, impliedly consumers (September 22, p1). Big Pharma is also addicted to statins, probably their most profitable mother-lode product ever.
GPs are addicted to statins. Prescribing them sidesteps having to discuss treadmills, perspiration and oral gratification control as primary strategies in combating sedentary, obesity-inducing lifestyle pathology.
Chemists are addicted to profits gained from, unquestioningly, sticking labels on statin products.
Were one to believe in conspiracies, one would appear to exist between statin-producing Big Pharma and food producers who manufacture products loaded with salts, fats and sugars, which, when ingested, result in the conditions which statins purportedly treat! Positive effects, postulated for short-lived, controlled, unable-to-complain laboratory rats do not necessarily replicate in humans.
Statins may induce neurological, hepatic, muscular and cardiac side-effects, which if unrecognised, as such, may initiate a self-perpetuating drug hurdy-gurdy leading to multi-organ, complex, chronic pathology.
Statins are analogous to esoteric bariatric procedures, representing get-out-of-jail-free approaches. In this era of individualism and free markets, where rights predominate over obligations, it seems idiosyncratic that health (i.e. sickness) would become a community responsibility.
This article's iconoclastic observation definitively shatters the image of begging, starving, ragged, ne'er-do-well addicts fouling up the footpaths, shooting-up and lying in gutters, as possessing a monopoly on addiction!
Albert M. White, Queanbeyan
Vive la difference
THE LACK of women in Tony Abbott's government has drawn a lot of negative attention.
Annabel Crabb wrote a great article in Sunday's Canberra Times (September 22, p2) which, to me, answers ''why this is so?''
It has to do with choices and having children.
The last paragraph states only 15 per cent of females reach the age of 44 without having had a child.
That leaves a small gene pool from which to draw eager female candidates into political life.
Juggling family and politics is traditionally harder for women.
Equality may be fair, but we must respect the differences between male and female and bring that into the equation.
Heather Sorensen, Kambah
GREG HUNT has claimed that our modest 5 per cent emissions reduction target can be easily reached through the Liberals' ''Direct Action'' policy, though many doubt it.
Both Labor and Liberal policy says they would move to more ambitious reductions targets when there is significant movement elsewhere in the world. So, now is the time for Mr Hunt to prove the critics wrong, to aim for and achieve far better emission reductions.
Germany has 23 per cent renewable electricity generation already, which we are only aiming for by 2020. Europe's emission reduction target is 20 per cent and they are considering 40 per cent by 2030.
The US has new, tighter emission standards for electricity generation that virtually ban any new coal power; stronger targets than ours, and looking to become stronger. Climate change is beyond reasonable doubt.
We can no longer use waiting for the rest of the world as an excuse for doing nothing.
Peter Campbell, Cook
The big sell
WITH the first rumblings of asset sales to patch up what has become standard LNP practice of manufacturing massive black holes in Treasury, one is left asking just how many more assets can be sold before the cupboard is bare.
Then again, they will still have Parliament House, the Governor-General's residences, Kirribilli House and other juicy and inviting bargains to be snapped up by their mates, won't they?
THERE'S a reason the ACT Land Development Agency (LDA) is losing money (''Land agency takes $160m hit'', September 28, p1).
In 1974 I went to a first-home buyer's land auction. The word ''environment'' had yet to be invented.
The Evatt block I got was covered with grass. The block cost $4500. The house: $19,500.
In 2013, vast LDA Molonglo Valley earthworks rival the building of a pharaoh's tomb.
New blocks are bare. They're set amid costly land-shaping works to meet the dictates of enviro-zealots.
Result: Beer blocks at champagne prices. Buyers baulk. Prices drop. LDA loses $160 million.
Memo to LDA: Sack enviro-zealots. Sell blocks with grass. Make money instead of losing it.
Graham Macafee, Latham