It takes over 500 people taking Lipitor to prevent one death or serious medical complication. Here’s the deal…

There is a number researchers use to measure the effectiveness of a treatment called “the Number Needed to Treat.” It is “the number of patients that would need to undergo a particular treatment over a specific time period in order to see their health improve beyond what would have happened had they done nothing or had they undergone a different treatment.”

Big Pharma doesn’t advertise the Number Needed to Treat because, well, would you take the #1 selling drug in America, Lipitor, if you knew that over 500 people needed to be on it on an ongoing basis in an ideal setting to prevent one death or serious medical condition?

One day we’ll all wake up and realize that the vast majority of medications designed to treat lifestyle/behavior problems only work in a very, very negligible way. Now I’d like to see the number of long term side effects these medications cause vs. the number of problems they prevent. That is the magic number.

Drugs won’t save us. Living well everyday is the best prevention.

Here’s the link to the BusinessWeek article. Thanks Bronwyn!