Letters

Inferiority of calcium channel blockers to cheaper drugs

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.322.7287.671/a (Published 17 March 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:671

News item was inaccurate on at least two counts

  1. Norman M Kaplan (ronald.victor@emailswmed.edu), professor of medicine
  1. University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center, 5323 Harry Hines Boulevard, J4, 134, Dallas, TX 75390-8586
  2. Premier Pathology Laboratories and Sierra View District Hospital, 263 N Pearson Drive, Suite 108, Porterville, CA 93257-3333, USA
  3. Wales Heart Research Institute, University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff CF14 4XN
  4. Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ

    EDITOR—The news item by Josefson about calcium channel blockers being inferior to cheaper drugs1 seems to have been taken directly from the press release by the investigators from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Nowhere is the lesser incidence of stroke with calcium channel blockers and the equality of total mortality with these and other drugs mentioned. Moreover, the inappropriate inclusion of flawed data in this meta-analysis should be contrasted with the more careful and complete meta-analysis presented by MacMahon and Neal at the International Society of Hypertension on 24 August 2000 and now published in the Lancet.2 Since this study was not hyped by press releases, Josefson was probably unaware of its balanced results.

    But Josefson goes further. She states that calcium channel blockers are inferior to other antihypertensive drugs in elderly patients with diabetes and systolic hypertension, referring incorrectly to two papers. The first shows exactly the opposite: calcium channel blockers in the Syst-Eur trial provided better protection than did diuretics in the SHEP trial.3 The second paper is the SHEP data with ne'er a calcium channel blocker in sight.4

    The BMJ should insist on at least as much accuracy in its news articles as in its papers.

    Footnotes

    • Competing interests NMK has been paid honoraria for talks given under the …

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