Sir Rory Collins is an advocate for statins claiming it is safe and effective in healthy patients. His research has shown that they benefit practically everyone and have virtually no side-effects. His opinion is based on “secret data” has not been made available for inspection. And, yes, his research is funded by the companies supplying those drugs including Pfizer and Merck Sharp & Dohme.
“The research centre that Sir Rory heads – the Cholesterol Treatment Trialists (CTT) in Oxford – holds the biggest collection of statin data in the world, but no one outside the organisation has been able to study it for 20 years.”
Two authors have written papers attacking his work (Abramson Oct 2013 | Malhotra October 2013). These were published in the British Medical Journal. Sir Collins took offense and has been demanding that the BMJ retract the papers.
The BMJ suggested Sir Collins write a rebuttal which is the normal way these things get duked out in peer reviewed journals. But instead, he sent replies by letter marked “Not For Publication” – a move which doesn’t exactly encourage open dialogue.
A committee was then set up by the BMJ to consider Sir Collin’s request to have the opposing papers withdrawn. Not only did this body reject his demands but has instead issued a report which criticizes how he has been dealing with data (Statin Papers Stand, Aug 1).
Although statin use is widely prescribed, the jury is still out on whether they are effective and worth the cost of side effects.
“Yet here we are 20 years on and there is widespread agreement that we still don’t really know how effective they are at preventing heart attacks in healthy people – the group who get by far the most statin prescriptions – or what the true side-effect rate is. Part of the problem is the drug companies’ well-known habit of fiddling of statistics, hiding of unfavourable results, selecting trial subjects most likely to produce favourable results and so on.”