Rapid responses are electronic comments to the editor. They enable our users to debate issues raised in articles published on bmj.com. A rapid response is first posted online. If you need the URL (web address) of an individual response, simply click on the response headline and copy the URL from the browser window. A proportion of responses will, after editing, be published online and in the print journal as letters, which are indexed in PubMed. Rapid responses are not indexed in PubMed and they are not journal articles. The BMJ reserves the right to remove responses which are being wilfully misrepresented as published articles.
I read with interest the Short Cut where you reproduce the reported
link between cardiovascular disease and the use of TIOTROPIUM. You report
an estimated increase in serious cardiac events of 58%. This is derived
by comparing the 1.8% incidence in treatment patients again 1.2% in
controls. This figure is grossly misleading. You do quote other more
appropriate figures in the article. I am concerned that the BMJ, being a
major journal, is often scrutinised by the popular press. They tend to
select information given for public consumption.
The percentage of a percentage concept was initially invented by drug
companies to exaggerate apparent efficacy for popular consumption. To a
lay person reading the popular press a 58% increase in mortality suggests
that 58% of people die per every 100 treatments. The true quoted figure
should be 0.6%.
I suggest the BMJ start a campaign to stop this misleading statistic
being used by important journals as it often ends up in the popular press
and causes unnecessary anxiety to the public.
Dr J Alan Roberts
Consultant Physician in General
And Thoracic Medicine