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"Statins could be possible weapon for pandemic flu"


Source: CTV.CA

Published: 27 Jun 2022

Category: Pharmaceutical

Rating: (1½ stars)

what they said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

TORONTO -- Cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins might help fill a void in the global medicine cabinet during a flu pandemic, an American scientist argues in an upcoming issue of a medical journal.
The drugs, which appear to fight inflammation and the damage it can inflict, might be useful to help modulate the impact if the virus that causes a future flu pandemic is one that induces an overactive immune response, said Dr. David Fedson, a retired academic researcher.
"The next influenza pandemic may be imminent. Because antiviral drugs and vaccines will be unavailable to people in most countries, we need to determine whether other agents could offer clinical benefits," Fedson wrote in a commentary to be published in the July 15 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases (currently published online). ...

The original article can found in the Media Doctor archives.

how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 3 of 10
Availability of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Novelty of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Disease Mongering Satisfactory (?)
Treatment Options Satisfactory (?)
Costs of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Evidence Not Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of Benefits of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Sources of Information Not Satisfactory (?)
Relies on Press Release Not Applicable
Quantification of Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)

what we said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

This is an eye-catching story with a premise that seems preposterous and worthy of being rejected out of hand. However, even though it lacks important detail on statins to guide the reader, there are some good caveats related to the nature of the study (observational study) that helps point out to the reader some good reasons to doubt the hypothesis. At the same time the unreported potential conflicts of interest of the spokespeople make it a less than reliable story and begs the question: why is this even being reported? Is it just to increase the size of the already gargantuan statin market? That's less clear.

Promoting statins as an alternative to oseltamivir, without discussing how very marginal that therapy is to start with is troubling as it implies a benefit far beyond what is found in controlled clinical trials.

Some may argue that saying the "next flu pandemic is imminent" is an example of disease mongering, but we gave the journalist the benefit of the doubt. Avian flu references are often misrepresentations and reporters sometimes make distortions out of what is known about the disease. The last sentence would have made a more accurate headline for this story: "And so part of the problem is . . . we just don't know." Amen to that.

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