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"Cholesterol drugs help fend off deadly flu"

Globe and Mail

Source: Globe and Mail

Published: 10 Apr 2022

Category: Pharmaceutical

Rating: (1½ stars)

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

WASHINGTON - People who use statin drugs are less likely to die of influenza and chronic bronchitis, according to a study that shows yet another unexpected benefit of the cholesterol-lowering medications.
Their study of more than 76,000 people showed that those who had taken statins for at least 90 days had a much lower risk of dying from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, the technical name for emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Patients on statins also had a lower risk of dying from influenza or pneumonia, the researchers reported on Monday...

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how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 3 of 10
Availability of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Novelty of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Disease Mongering Not 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 story reports on possible benefits of statins in decreasing mortality from a variety of respiratory diseases. However the story completely neglects to mention the methodology of the study that produced these results and as a consequence it is extremely difficult to know how valid the results are. This type of report represents very sloppy journalism and doesn't help readers in any material way, other than give them unsubstantiated reasons for taking statins. I would say that this article borders on disease mongering, as it takes the issue of Bird Flu, and suggests that statins reduces influenza/pneumonia death (noting that an influenza pandemic is "inevitable") as well as the risk of COPD death. There may well be better reasons for taking statins, but alarming the reader and preying on fears of a flu pandemic seem to be wholly unnecessary.

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