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Two papers in The BMJ with statin side effect errors shouldn’t be retracted, independent panel concludes

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 04 August 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g4993
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

Two articles published in The BMJ that contained an error in reporting the side effects of statins should not be retracted, an independent panel set up by the journal has concluded.

The errors, which have been corrected, were not such as to justify retraction under the code adopted by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), says the panel, chaired by Iona Heath, a former president of the Royal College of General Practitioners. Calls for retraction of the articles have been led by Rory Collins of Oxford University, who complained that by misrepresenting the side effects of statins the articles might discourage people from taking the drugs and cost lives.

But neither article, one by a team led by John Abramson of Harvard University and the other by the London cardiologist Aseem Malhotra,1 2 met the COPE criteria, which say that retraction should usually be reserved for publications that are so seriously flawed that their findings or conclusions cannot be relied on. The code says, “If only a small part of an article reports flawed data and especially if this is the result of genuine error then the problem is best rectified by a correction or erratum.”

In the case of both the articles in The BMJ the error was to claim, on …

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