In Serious doubts about new study of statins and heart disease, Salzberg summarizes the studies: "[they] claimed that people with normal cholesterol levels could get significant health benefits [by taking Crestor]. If true, [these two studies] impl[y] that millions more people should start taking statins to protect themselves against heart attacks." He adds "[t]his new finding is rife with problems, despite the breathless news reporting about it" and goes on to describe 5 of them:
- "Both studies were funded by AstraZeneca, the drug company that sells Crestor," although Salzberg is quick to add that this is clearly disclosed in both articles.
- The lead author of both studies is Paul Ridker, who owns the patent on the primary test for C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, and he stands to benefit financially if more people are tested for CRP. Again, Salzberg calls this only eyebrow-worthy, as this is clearly stated in both articles.
- Although it suggests that a seven-variable method is more predictive than the traditional five-variable model, "the Circulation study didn’t report separately on the effect of CRP and family history of heart disease."
- "[T]he NEJM [New England Journal of Medicine] study actually reports a very small benefit: ... you’d have to treat 95 people for 2 years with statins to prevent 1 heart attack."
- "The patients in the NEJM study were randomly divided into two groups, treatment (Crestor) and placebo [and] there are 3 critical variables where the two groups are not identical."
If you like that post, you might like these:
- New members for Vioxx Hall of Shame In which Salzberg updates his list of medical researchers who had been paid by Merck to conduct studies of Vioxx (October 2008).
- NIH halts chelation study after patients die Reporting on a Medscape Journal of Medicine article that reports on the halting of the NIH's Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT). (Sept. 2008)
- And what else is acupuncture good for? Reporting on a Yahoo! News headline " 'Unclear whether acupuncture helps fertility' " (July 2008)
For the socially networked: I found this blog through my FriendFeed buddy Jean-Claude Bradley, who follows Lars Juhl Jensen, who linked to Salzberg's blog.