BMJ Articles Critical of Statins Provoke Kerfuffle — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
May 15, 2014

BMJ Articles Critical of Statins Provoke Kerfuffle

By Larry Husten

The authors of two BMJ articles have withdrawn statements about the adverse effects of statins. The two articles inaccurately cite an earlier publication and therefore may overstate the incidence of adverse effects.

BMJ Editor-in-Chief Fiona Godlee explains the lingering controversy in an editorial. In October 2013, BMJ published two articles that cited the same study by Zhang and colleagues to support the statement that statin side effects occur in 18% to 20% of patients. But, writes Godlee, the articles "did not reflect necessary caveats and did not take sufficient account of the uncontrolled nature" of the data in the Zhang paper.

The aim of the editorial, she writes, is "to alert readers, the media, and the public to the withdrawal of these statements so that patients who could benefit from statins are not wrongly deterred from starting or continuing treatment because of exaggerated concerns over side effects."

Godlee reports that she is uncertain "whether the error is sufficient for retraction." As such, BMJ is passing the decision to an outside panel of experts "with no dog in this fight."

Adapted from CardioExchange

Reader Comments (1)

SHELDON BALL Physician, Geriatrics, Anvita Health

Not that my comments ever result in acknowledgement of receipt, but it would be interesting to place this debate in context of the potential for financial gain. Money is a powerful driving force and it is no surprise that a publication that might cut into profits was met with swift retaliation.

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