Intended for healthcare professionals

Short Cuts

All you need to read in the other general journals

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 30 September 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a1854

Tiotropium and cardiovascular disease

Dear Sir/Madam

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.

Yours faithfully

Dr J Alan Roberts

Consultant Physician in General
And Thoracic Medicine

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

16 October 2008
J Alan Roberts
Royal Hampshire County Hosp[ital SO22 5DG