Intended for healthcare professionals


Statins and The BMJ

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 07 August 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5038
  1. Fiona Godlee, editor in chief, The BMJ
  1. fgodlee{at}

Lots of lessons, but we still need the data

An expert panel convened by The BMJ has concluded that two articles published last year1 2 and corrected in May should not be retracted.3 The panel’s report comes after a lengthy and public row over proposals to extend the use of statins to healthy people at low risk of heart disease.4 What are the lessons from this episode for The BMJ and the scientific community? And what does it mean for the wider debate on statins?

The panel of seven internationally respected clinicians and researchers met seven times over two months. They acted independently of the journal, undertook a detailed statistical review of the two articles, received written evidence from all parties, and reviewed the journal’s processes. They concluded that the only unequivocal error had been corrected and “were unanimous in their decision that the two papers do not meet any of the criteria for retraction.”

The panel was itself under fierce public scrutiny. While those who had called for retraction questioned the panel’s independence,5 the Retraction Watch website said that the panel’s report was “the most detailed justification for a journal’s decision not to retract a paper that …

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