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Press coverage of meningitis case GP's ordeal just adds to her anguish

The article entitled 'New warning to GPs over rosuvastatin in Asian patients' (News, January 15) stated that 'the company admitted a UK patient may have died from rhabdomyolysis after taking it'. This is incorrect.

In fact, there are no spontaneous reports of fatal rhabdomyolysis linked with rosuvastatin in the UK to date. The fatal case that was openly discussed with your journalist was reported in another country, and was most likely associated with neuroleptic malignant syndrome.

The yellow card scheme, from which the article drew its UK statistics, clearly and importantly cautions against the use of raw data to draw comparative or absolute conclusions.

A spontaneous adverse event report does not imply a proven causal link with any of the drugs the patient is taking at that time.

All statins have spontaneous fatal reports (eg >30 for atorvastatin in the UK) but the cause of the event can be due to a number of factors, including co-morbidities and concomitant medications.

Examination of the individual fatal cases reported in the UK for patients taking rosuvastatin has shown the likely cause of death was most commonly myocardial infarction or other conditions associated with the underlying pathology. There is no evidence that rosuvastatin has caused any fatalities in the UK.

Additionally, the scheme recommends reporting of all adverse drug reactions for a product carrying the black triangle (rosuvastatin) but only serious and unusual adverse drug reactions for products without the black triangle (atorvastatin).

Furthermore, media attention and other factors affect reporting rates, which invalidates a simple comparison of numbers.

Rosuvastatin is an effective treatment for hypercholesterolaemia, reducing LDL-cholesterol and raising HDL-cholesterol significantly versus other statins. The safety profile of rosuvastatin remains consistent with other statins. This is supported with experience of more than 15.8 million prescriptions in over four million patients worldwide, thus providing evidence of a favourable benefit-to-risk profile.

Dr Sathish Kolli

AstraZeneca UK

Luton

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