Re "The National Institutes of Health: Public Servant or Private Marketer?" Dec. 22: I am appalled that researchers who speak for the NIH and have the ability to influence what doctors are prescribing for their patients are being paid as consultants by drug companies. I have taken a number of statins, including Crestor, and I am aware of the guidelines issued in 2001 by the National Cholesterol Education Program that recommended new target levels for cholesterol. Now I am wondering how seriously I should regard the advice of the NIH.
There is no credibility at the NIH. If major scientists are promoting a particular drug or treatment and they are accepting consulting fees from that company, how can you believe anything they are saying about that product? In any other society what they are doing would be called corruption. Taking a bribe, if you will. I no longer have any confidence in what they have to say.
Rodney G. Stinnett MD
It's not just that the cholesterol guidelines were created by those with a vested interest in selling statin drugs or that industry reps use psychological blackmail to induce doctors to prescribe statins. It is also that malpractice insurers punish doctors who do not prescribe statins and health insurers reward doctors by reimbursing for statin therapy. Most continuing education for physicians is sponsored by drug companies and is calculated to turn doctors into the dispensing arm of the pharmaceutical industry.