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A Book of Inconvenient Truths about
Big Pharma, Big Lies


Press Release (ENG/NL/FR)

Big Pharma, Big Lies: “Statins that lower cholesterol should be taken off the market”


  • “Big Pharma, Big Lies”: only 11% of medications has been proven to be beneficial and safe.

  • Statins are surrogate medications which simply lower cholesterol but do not prolong life. Worse: they have many side effects, including death.

  • Appeal to the regulators to only approve drugs after autonomous testing and on the conditions that they are beneficial and safe, and better than currently available medication.


Ostend, Belgium – In his book “Big Pharma, Big Lies” Prof. Dr Luc Hondeghem urges regulators to only accept medications that satisfy efficacy and safety, and to continuously monitor these accepted drugs, as some drugs can become harmful in a later phase. The current process allows too many medications to enter the market with uncertain or no benefits, some even detrimental to our health. Only 11% of all medications has been proven beneficial and safe. For example: statins were developed to prolong life but this is not the case. On the contrary, they do lower cholesterol - but this is not necessarily beneficial for the patient - while they have numerous side effects, including all-cause death (cancer, diabetes, muscle pain, and many more).


Big Pharma, Big Lies: “Statines (cholesterolverlagers) zouden van de markt moeten gehaald worden”

  • “Big Pharma, Big Lies”: slechts 11% van alle medicatie is veilig en heeft bewezen voordelen.

  • Statines zijn surrogaat medicijnen die de cholesterol verlagen maar het leven niet verlengen. Erger nog: ze hebben veel bijwerkingen waar je zelfs kunt aan overlijden.

  • Oproep aan de regulatoren om medicijnen enkel goed te keuren na onafhankelijke testen, op voorwaarde dat ze een voordeel bieden en veilig zijn, en wanneer ze beter zijn dan de medicatie die reeds op de markt is.



Oostende, België – In zijn nieuw boek “Big Pharma, Big Lies”, doet Prof. Dr. Luc Hondeghem een dringende oproep aan de regulatoren om enkel efficiënte en veilige geneesmiddelen op de markt toe te laten. De goedgekeurde medicijnen zouden ook continu moeten gemonitord worden, want ze kunnen alsnog schadelijk worden in een latere fase. Met de huidige procedure komen er te veel medicijnen op de markt met onzekere of geen voordelen, soms zelfs met een negatief effect op onze gezondheid. Slechts van 11% van alle geneesmiddelen is het bewezen dat ze voordelen bieden en veilig zijn. Statines (cholesterolverlagers) bijvoorbeeld, werden ontwikkeld om het leven te verlengen, maar onderzoek toont aan dat deze het leven eerder verkorten. Ze verlagen wel degelijk de cholesterol in het bloed, maar dit is niet noodzakelijk beter voor de patiënt. Tegelijk hebben ze veel neveneffecten waaronder kankers en diabetes, waar je zelfs kunt aan overlijden.

Big Pharma, Big Lies: “Les statines qui réduisent le cholestérol devraient être retirées du marché”

  • "Big Pharma, Big Lies" : seuls 11% des médicaments se sont avérés bénéfiques et sûrs.

  • Les statines sont des médicaments de substitution qui réduisent simplement le cholestérol mais ne prolongent pas la vie. Pire : elles ont de nombreux effets secondaires, dont la mort.

  • Appel aux régulateurs à n'approuver les médicaments qu'après des tests autonomes et à la condition qu'ils soient bénéfiques et sûrs, et meilleurs que les médicaments actuellement disponibles.



Ostende, Belgique - Dans son livre "Big Pharma, Big Lies", le professeur Luc Hondeghem exhorte les régulateurs à n’autoriser que les médicaments qui satisfont aux critères d'efficacité et de sécurité, et à assurer un monitoring permanent de ces médicaments autorisés, car certains peuvent devenir nocifs par la suite. Le processus actuel permet à de trop nombreux médicaments d'entrer sur le marché alors que leurs avantages sont incertains ou inexistants, certains étant même préjudiciables à notre santé. Seuls 11% de tous les médicaments se sont avérés bénéfiques et sûrs. Par exemple : les statines ont été développées pour prolonger la vie, mais ce n'est pas le cas. Au contraire, elles font baisser le taux de cholestérol - mais ce n'est pas nécessairement bénéfique pour le patient - et elles ont de nombreux effets secondaires (cancer, diabète, douleurs musculaires, et bien d'autres) allant parfois jusqu’au décès.

Press Release

Interview Luc Hondeghem


What does the title of your book "Big Pharma, Big Lies" mean?

The big pharmaceutical companies are doing everything they can to get as many new drugs on the market as possible and thus increase their profits. A patient assumes that when a drug is prescribed, it will improve his health. Unfortunately, that is often not the case. Only 11% of the drugs are proven to be useful and safe, 24% are questionable and need further study and the others 65% are not proven to be effective and/or have many side effects, even fatal ones. Such “medicinal” drugs must be withdrawn from the market. A professor of medicine at Harvard University once said, “It would be good for humanity if all the medicines in the world were thrown into the sea, but bad for the fish!”

What are you accusing the big pharmaceutical companies of?


Regulators are being influenced too much and by too many when approving a new drug they want to bring to market. The pharmaceutical companies hand over their own test data of the product they want to get approved to the regulators. However, this information is not always complete and/or correct.


That's how I experienced it myself in my lab. I have been asked several times to sign a report on Motilium that selectively failed to properly report the poor results. I refused to sign this. Although the regulators themselves wrote that Motilium has little or no effect, it is still on the market despite its serious side effects.


What does it take to ensure that only useful drugs reach the market?


For starters, regulators should set up independent tests that are conducted in independent labs. These independent labs may not have any financial or other interest in whether a product comes onto the market or not. Now, tests are often carried out in the labs of the company itself that wants to get the product approved. This constitutes a conflict of interest.


In addition, ALL drugs should be tested. Indeed, in the United States, the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) that has to approve the drugs must object to the product within 180 days of receiving the application for approval. If this does not happen, the drug will AUTOMATICALLY be marketed and appear to be FDA-approved, which is not the case in practice. This is misleading for doctors and patients.


It should also be proven that a new drug works better than the drugs on the market. If not, this is a total waste of Social Security resources, which reimburse many of those drugs.


You also call for statins (cholesterol lowering drugs) to be removed from the market. Why?


Statins do indeed lower blood cholesterol levels. But…statins also have many dangerous side effects, including an increased risk of cancers, diabetes, etc. Some side effects can even lead to death. The limit of the permitted cholesterol level in the blood is continuously lowered, so that patients are put on statins faster and faster. This is good for pharmaceuticals, but detrimental to the health of patients and a huge financial cost to society.


How can you ensure that you maintain a good level of cholesterol, not too much and not too little?


Very important is a healthy lifestyle with a good Mediterranean diet, with lots of fruits, green vegetables, nuts, fish, antioxidants, healthy fats such as olive oil, etc.

Full Story

Full story

About Luc Hondeghem MD, PhD

I was born in 1944 and went to the ‘O.L.V.-College’ high school in Ostend, Belgium (1957-1963), where I learned mathematics from Raymond Van Craeynest. Raised as a physician’s son, I also became interested in medicine.

I obtained my M.S. and M.D. in medicine at the University of Leuven, Belgium (1970). I then attended the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where I completed a Ph.D. in pharmacology (1973).

I was active in cardiac electrophysiology for fifteen years at UCSF, and for five years as a Director at the Stahlman Cardiovascular Research Laboratories of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, where I was also Professor of medicine and pharmacology.

I returned to Belgium in 1990, teaching pharmacology at my Alma Mater, and founded an electrophysiological laboratory (Hondeghem Pharmaceutical Consulting) in Ostend, Belgium. The laboratory conducted over 25,000 experiments. All were aimed at developing effective and safe cardiac antiarrhythmic agents to cure cardiac diseases. To my regret, some companies deemed detecting cardiac problems more important than curing them.  

I participated in 33 books and wrote 82 publications, most of which in the field of cardiac electrophysiology. I was cited more than 7,000 times, the most prominent citation being: "Time- and voltage-dependent interaction of antiarrhythmic drugs with cardiac sodium channels", Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 1977;472:373-398

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