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More evidence is needed on ezetimibe

I would like to express my concern regarding a recent report in Pulse headlined.

Ezetimibe plus statin 'halves death risk'

The article of interest summarises the findings of a general practice research database study looking at the association between statin combination use and all-cause mortality.

This is an observational study and as such can show associations, but cannot establish causality.

Therefore, the conclusion in the report that ‘a cholesterol-lowering drug that has been blacklisted by some PCTs on financial grounds has been shown to reduce mortality in patients following a first acute myocardial infarction' is unscientific and misleading.

Furthermore, the source of the report – European Society of Cardiology Congress abstract 2845 – was withdrawn from the congress owing to the need for more complex analysis.

Interpretation and conclusions should not be made until data analysis is quality-checked, finalised and released.

It is disappointing to see that evidence is being represented in a scientifically incorrect fashion by Pulse.

This report may have potential implications for clinical practice.

From Dr Mohamed Lockhat

Medical leader, cardiovascular and diabetes, AstraZeneca

Editor's note

I would accept that the opening line of our story was worded in a way that may have implied causality, although the article went on to make clear that this was an observational study, and that it had found an association with reduced risk of mortality in patients taking ezetimibe.

The study abstract was accepted at this year's European Society of Cardiology Congress and published online by the European Heart Journal.

We were alerted by the ESC shortly after publication of our story that the abstract had been withdrawn from the congress, and we modified our website at that time to reflect this.

We have subsequently modified our website again to make clear in the abstract reference that the abstract – although initially accepted – had been withdrawn.