Independent Panel Exonerates BMJ in Statin Controversy — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
August 4, 2014

Independent Panel Exonerates BMJ in Statin Controversy

By Larry Husten

Edited by Susan Sadoughi, MD, and André Sofair, MD, MPH

An independent review panel has rejected a demand by a prominent researcher that the BMJ retract two controversial articles.

Rory Collins, head of the Cholesterol Treatment Trialists' Collaboration, had demanded that the BMJ retract two articles that were highly critical of statins. Although the journal issued a correction for both papers for inaccurately citing an earlier publication and therefore overstating the incidence of adverse effects of statins, this response did not satisfy Collins. He repeatedly requested that the journal issue a retraction, prompting the BMJ's editor-in-chief to convene an outside panel of experts.

The panel's report exonerates the journal from wrongdoing and said the controversial articles should not be retracted. In fact, the panel was critical of Collins for refusing to submit a published response.

The report did find some minor deficiencies in the editorial process at BMJ and said that the 7-month delay between publication of the articles and the correction was too long.

Panel member Harlan Krumholz, also editor-in-chief of NEJM Journal Watch Cardiology, commented: "The panel did not weigh in on the issue of the risk of statins, but judged the merits of the call for retraction. In the end there was little doubt that the opinion pieces in the BMJ did not meet criteria for retraction and the correction that had been made was sufficient."

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