Two Academic Journals Quarrel Over Statins: What Might This Mean For Patients?

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Two medical journals, The Lancet and the British Medical Journal (BMJ), are in the middle of an academic battle concerning their different viewpoints on statins.

The Lancet recently published a piece by medical doctors, indicating that everyone would benefit from taking a statin – even those who don’t need it. The effects according to them are so low-risk, it’s the same as taking a placebo. Whereas the BMJ suggests that the side-effects of statins affect up to 20% of people who take them. Authors of those articles seek an alternative for lowering cholesterol.

The Lancet has accused the BMJ of manipulating results to sway people against statins. The editor demands that the BMJ article be retracted, after up to 200,000 people stopped taking their statin medications, and  also claims that no further studies into statins should be conducted until this matter is resolved.

Here’s where things get interesting.

* The Lancet’s authors conducted research on several brand name statins. The companies behind the drugs Zocor, Lipitor and Crestor, also funded those same studies promoting the benefits of statins.

* Some of the BMJ’s physicians who conducted research were promoting new medications Praluent and Repatha. Guess what they’re marketed as? Safer alternatives to statins. Guess who stands to profit financially? BMJ’s physicians.

Where does this leave patients when two well-respected research outlets offer different stances on a medication? It signals an important issue in medical research: funding. Only last month did JAMA researchers uncover the truth behind the sugar lobby’s funding of key, healthcare-changing research pinning the blame for heart problems on fat. The bottom line is that while physicians treat patients with the intention of restoring health, there’s still the “courting” of medical doctors by pharmaceutical companies. This rift between the two journals is a result of that same avenue of financial backing. Pharmaceutical interests can supersede medical proficiency.

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