IS THE MEDIA SWIMMING AROUND THE REAL THREAT TO YOUR HEALTH
Health Sciences Institute e-Alert
September 5th, 2001
Nearly three decades ago, an undercurrent of fear was felt
through the nation. "Jaws" was in theatres and, thanks to
what were amazing special effects at the time, it seemed
too real to ignore. I even remember reports about how empty
the beaches were.
This summer, the threat has resurfaced, but this time, it's
for real. You can't turn on the TV these days or read the
paper without hearing about the deadly danger of a shark
attack. This morning The Today Show reported that there
have been 41 shark attacks in the U.S. this year... three
of which were fatal.
And people all seem baffled, assuming there is some
mysterious reason that the sharks are suddenly out to get
us. They're calling in experts to talk about feeding and
swimming patterns, looking at how far they are from shore,
what time of day they appear, etc.
But is this really a new phenomenon? Or, is it just that
the media has decided to make it this year's summer
I can't help but wonder...
First, consider this surprising bit of information: The
number of attacks is deemed by experts to be completely
normal for the season, and it's actually down from last
Now consider this: So far this summer, there have been 41
shark attacks in the U.S. from which 3 people died. Yet, 31
people have died in the U.S. taking the statin drug Baycol
- 10 times more than have died in these shark attacks.
So, while people are fleeing the beaches once again,
countless patients are still taking statin drugs (among
other types of cholesterol-lowering drugs) everyday -
potentially risking their lives. But have you heard Katie
Couric warning us about that every morning? I haven't heard
a second mention in the popular press since I first heard
the story on a cable news show a few weeks ago.
And that's not all. While Katie, Matt and the rest of the
mainstream media are effectively ignoring the statin story,
the pharmaceutical companies' PR machines are working
overtime to keep people believing the drugs are safe. Since
Bayer pulled Baycol voluntarily, as we reported in the
August 9th e-Alert, Bristol-Myers Squibb took out full-page
ads in the New York Times, USA Today, and the Philadelphia
Inquirer offering a free one-month supply of their drug,
Pravachol. Likewise, pharmaceutical giant Merck ran a
full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal wooing former
Baycol users over to their drug, Zocor.
Talk about sharks circling...
But that's to be expected from the big drug companies. Why
the imbalance in news coverage?
One theory, of course, is ratings. The shock value and
human-interest focus of the shark attacks is much "sexier"
by TV standards than the risk of death by a
But that's only part of it. The other part is the bottom
line. Imagine if Bayer had a nationwide aspirin commercial
scheduled to run during the Evening News at a price of...
let's just say $300,000. Now imagine their marketing
director's reaction if the lead story were the number of
deaths caused by Baycol. Do you think they would pay that
bill? At the very least, I'd think they'd take their
millions in advertising dollars elsewhere.
The mainstream media outlets can't afford to bite the hand
that's feeding them...so too often important stories like
these are either ignored or downplayed.
Now I'm not saying that no one has covered the on-going
saga. But the concentration has been terribly weak and the
fact that other companies are continuing to aggressively
push their statin drugs as substitutes has been completely
That's one reason we're so pleased we've been able to bring
you this free e-Alert service. It allows us to talk to you
about issues that the media are ignoring but that we
wouldn't normally cover in your monthly Members Alert (or
that wouldn't be as timely once you received it).
In recent e-Alerts and in your new member bonus reports,
we've told you about tocotrienol vitamin E, a natural, safe
alternative to help manage your cholesterol level. Please
make sure you pass on this information regarding the
dangers associated with statin drugs and other
cholesterol-lowering drugs to any friends or family members
you think may be at risk.
To Your Good Health,
Health Sciences Institute
P.S. For more information on the statin drug story and
alternative therapies, see your August 9th and August 18th
e-Alerts. To search back issues, go to hsibaltimore.com