A humiliating climb down – or a Machiavellian move?

Some of you may have seen a headline in the Sunday Express Newspaper ‘Statin, new safety checks.’ The subheading was ‘Oxford professor who championed controversial drug to reassess evidence of side effects.’

Those of you who read this blog probably know that the professor in question is Sir Rory Collins. He, more than anyone, has championed the ever wider prescription of these drugs. He has also ruthlessly attacked anyone who dares make any criticism of them.

You may remember that last year he tried to get the BMJ to retract two articles claiming that statins had side effects (correctly called adverse effects, but I will call them side-effects to avoid confusion) of around 18 – 20%.

He stated that these articles were irresponsible, worse than Andrew Wakefield’s work on the MMR vaccine, and that thousands would die if they were scared off taking their statins by such articles. Ah yes, the old ‘thousands will die’ game. A game I have long since tired of.

Is this story ringing any bells yet? The truth was that both articles quoted a paper which stated that 17.4% of people suffered adverse effects. So, yes, a pedant would say that the 18 – 20% figure was wrong – although not very wrong. Certainly not worth a demand of instant retraction, and apology, which is a very drastic step indeed.

Anyway, below is a short description of the findings of an independent panel set up by Fiona Godlee, editor of the BMJ, regarding the Rory Collins attacks [This has appeared on my blog before]:

“As previously reported, Rory Collins, a prominent researcher and head of the Cholesterol Treatment Trialists’ (CTT) Collaboration, had demanded that The BMJ retract two articles that were highly critical of statins. Although The BMJ issued a correction for both papers for inaccurately citing an earlier publication and therefore overstating the incidence of adverse effects of statins, this response did not satisfy Collins. He repeatedly demanded that the journal issue a full retraction of the articles, prompting The BMJ’s editor-in-chief, Fiona Godlee, to convene an outside panel of experts to review the problem.

The report of the independent statins review panel exonerates The BMJ from wrong doing and said the controversial articles should not be retracted:

“The panel were unanimous in their decision that the two papers do not meet any of the criteria for retraction. The error did not compromise the principal arguments being made in either of the papers. These arguments involve interpretations of available evidence and were deemed to be within the range of reasonable opinion among those who are debating the appropriate use of statins.”

In fact, the panel was critical of Collins for refusing to submit a published response to the articles:

“The panel noted with concern that despite the Editor’s repeated requests that Rory Collins should put his criticisms in writing as a rapid response, a letter to the editor or as a stand-alone article, all his submissions were clearly marked ‘Not for Publication’. The panel considered this unlikely to promote open scientific dialogue in the tradition of the BMJ.””1

To provide a bit more context at this point, you should know that for a number of years, people have been trying to get Rory Collins to release the data he and his unit (the CTT), holds on statins. [The CTT was set up purely to get hold of and review all the data on statins, it has no other function].

He has stubbornly refused to let anyone see anything. He claims he signed non-disclosure contracts with pharmaceutical companies who send him the data, so he cannot allow anyone else access. Please remember that some of the trials he holds data on were done over thirty years ago, and the drugs are long off patent. So how the hell could any data still be ‘confidential’ or ‘commercially sensitive’ now?

[The concept that vital data on drug adverse effects can be considered confidential, and no-one is allowed to see it, is completely ridiculous anyway. But that is an argument for another day.]

Now, amazingly, after running the CTT for nearly twenty years, Collins claims that ‘he has not seen the full data on side-effects.’ In an e-mail to the Sunday Express he stated that ‘his team had assessed the effects of statins on heart disease and cancer but not other side effects such as muscle pain.

Let that statement percolate for a moment or two. Then try to make sense of it. So, they have got the data, but not bothered to look at it? Or they have not got it – which surely must be the case if he hasn’t even seen it. Give us a clue. Either way, Collins states he has not assessed it.

Despite this, he still managed a vicious attack on the BMJ for publishing articles, claiming statins had side effects of around 20%. This was an interesting stance to stake, as he now claims he has no idea what the rate of side effects are? In which case he should make a grovelling apology to Fiona Godlee immediately.

What is certain, and must be reiterated, is that Rory Collins has consistently refused to allow anyone to see the side effect data, or any other data, that that the CTT may, or may not, hold. See e-mail below from Professor Colin Baigent to the ABC producer MaryAnne Demasi (she was trying to get the CTT to confirm that they would not release data, Colin Baigent is deputy to Rory Collins)

From: colin.baigent@xxxxxxxxxxx

To: maryannedemasi@xxxxxxxxxxxx


Date: Tue, 24 Sep 2013 17:02:23 +0000

Dear Maryanne

The CTT secretariat has agreement with the principal investigators of the trials and, in those instances where trial data were provided directly by the drug manufacturers, with the companies themselves, that individual trial data will not be released to third parties. Such an agreement was necessary in order that analyses of the totality of the available trial data could be conducted by the CTT Collaboration: without such an agreement the trial data could not have been brought together for systematic analysis. Such analysis has allowed the CTT Collaboration to conduct and report all of the analyses on efficacy and safety that have been sought directly or indirectly by others (eg by Dr Redberg in her papers on the efficacy and safety of statins in primary prevention, and in questions raised by the Cochrane Collaboration). Hence, the CTT Collaboration has made available findings that would not otherwise have emerged.

I would be very happy to ring you at whatever time is convenient for you in order to help you to understand our approach, and then address in writing any residual concerns. It would be a shame if we were not able to speak as this would be the most effective way of explaining things.

Please let me know where and some times when I can reach you, and I will endeavour to telephone.

Colin Baigent.

I put the word safety in bold in this copied e-mail. You will note that Professor Colin Baigent does not say that that the CTT do not have these data on safety. He just says that the CTT won’t let anyone else see any data.

If they do have it, why have they not done this critically important review before, as they have had much of the data for over twenty years. If they don’t have it, how exactly is Rory Collins going to review it – as he states he is going to? Sorry to keep repeating this point, but I think it is absolutely critical.

Picture the scene in a lovely oak panelled office in Oxford, the city of the dreaming spires….

Professor Collins:   ‘Hey guys, you’re just not going to believe this, but a researcher just found a big box in the airing cupboard, and guess what, it has all the safety data in it….phew.’

Professor Baigent:  ‘Ahem… Why that’s lucky Professor Collins, now we can do the safety review.’

Professor Collins:   ‘Ahem… Indeed, Professor Baigent, we can. So, let’s get cracking shall we?’

And lo it has come to pass that after all these years Professor Collins has deigned to look at the safety data. This review shall, in Collins own words ‘be challenging.’ But you know what really don’t think they should bother, because we all know exactly what they are going to find….

That they were right all along, statins have no side effects. Hoorah, pip, pip. Nothing to see here, now move along.

A.N.Other Researcher:       ‘Please sir, can anyone else see these data that you hold, to ensure that you are being completely open and honest?’

Professor Collins:               ‘Don’t be ridiculous, these data are completely confidential.’

At this point I feel that I should ask how much do you, gentle readers, believe you can trust a review by Collins, on the data that Collins holds, on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry. Data that no-one else can ever see. [And the data from clinical trials on side effects is totally inadequate anyway].

Were I to be given the task of finding someone to review the safety data on statins, Professor Sir Rory Collins would not be the first person I would ask. He might even be the last.

1: http://www.forbes.com/sites/larryhusten/2014/08/02/no-retraction-for-you-review-panel-exonerates-medical-journal-in-statin-kerfuffle/

P.S. Actually, he would be the last.

145 thoughts on “A humiliating climb down – or a Machiavellian move?

  1. Christine Whitehead

    I read the Express article earlier and it left me gasping. I hope the editor and the authors do demand an apology. Frankly I’d have the guy up before a House of Commons Select Committee to answer some very searching questions.

    Another point in the article, that stood out for me, was this quote from Collins:
    “….additional work was needed to convince the public that statins were safe.”
    I presume this means that he is planning to do a piece of research, the outcome of which he has already decided.
    What kind of research is that?
    Oh (light dawns) perhaps it’s the type of research that attracts big money.

  2. Jennifer

    Will he let me add my two-pen’th to his new look at statins?
    What a sham!
    What I heard on the newscast told me that Collins was going to look at the evidence from a most biased focus, and seemed to be setting his stall out to prove his views were/are correct!
    No doubt he will never ask me……and the many others who have suffered beyond words and lost precious time out if our lives. This afternoon, as I pottered around in my kitchen, messing on with heavy bowls of brine and pans of soup etc, I thought back to the lost afternoons spent recumbent in the lounge, unable to lift my arms, and suffering terrible shoulder pains….for which I was advised to ‘go swimming’.
    I will not trust anything that comes out of this latest chapter in the saga of statinisation of the human race, unless I can be assured that the researchers are totally honest…but where the heck will we find them from?

    1. Stephen Rhodes

      You won’t if the report on the Beeb this morning is anything to go by as people are still living in denial – a situation that allows the dishonest to carry on as usual under the radar.
      The programme in question was examining ‘nocebo’ effects and discussed generic drugs – claiming that there is no difference between these and the branded versions. This despite the FDA and the EMC declaring many of the tests on the efficacy of generics to have been fraudulently fabricated and that many are not biomedically equivalent and should be withdrawn. Hardly surprising that the patients would consider them to be worse than the branded drugs.

      1. mikecawdery

        Surely, it is purpose of the FDA, MHRA and EMA and other national drug authorities to sort this out and reject all such fraudulent applications. Having worked on both sides of the vet system this is what is attempted. However, a standard test of equivalence for generics is to compare the plasma kinetics of the generic with the original. Obviously, if fraud is intended, then it is easy to fabricate/modify data to meet that requirement. Most authorities do not have the facility to check the results by duplication.

        I believe that access to those facilities to check the submitted results is essential for authorization but Govts. prefer to leave Big (and small) Pharma to do this job and charge them for checking the data; result some submissions are flawed/fraud.

      2. Jennifer

        Stephen, I thought it was a good programme. I was quite taken aback by patients’ responses to strong analgesia, and it proved to me that attitudes towards another person’s pain must be considered. In nursing, we were told…..’the pain level is what the patient says it is’, in other words, ‘not what the nurse perceives it to be’…..BUT, this research showed just how important the art and science of ‘suggestion’ actually is. Fascinating stuff. A nice, calm, encouraging Nurse can thus make a difference in a patient’s recovery.

  3. mikecawdery

    Yes I noted that statement from Collins.
    For more bovine feacal matterial (BFM)

    As a registered “patient reviewer” of the BMJ I only hope that when the paper is submitted (to the BMJ??? would he dare after his last pasting?) that I am selected as the patient reviewer. Probably will be submitted to the well-trained and subservient Lancet.

    I suspect the results of this “review” will be another whitewash with SELECTION of data, undefined data, positive (ie no Adverse Reactions) references, total ignoring of negative data and references. What will not be available is all the “confidential data” and the data used will not be OPEN ACCESS for researchers like Prof. Gotzsche, Dr Kendrick and other skeptics.
    Personally I would not trust this man at all. To design a trial as 2×2 factorial and never ever publish the statistical analyses based on that design; to select only statin tolerant patients and then claim negligible adverse reactions; to use a second treatment of an anti-oxidant vitamin cocktail but exclude CoQ10 for which Merck has a patent combining CoQ10 with simvastatin, the primary treatment of the study, that is the measure of a man that is NOT a real researcher and who I could never believe anything he publishes.

    1. mikecawdery

      On further reflection and referring to the CTT and CTSU data to be reviewed, I believe it requires “vetting” rather than more “doctoring”. I am of course alluding to the relevant Oxford Dictionary defitions of “to vet” and “to doctor”. Collins and colleagues are clearly incapable of vetting this data; further doctoring will simply obfuscate the truth.

  4. Flyinthesky

    I read it and in no way can I see it as a climbdown, maybe a tentative half step “I hear your concerns” How anyone can accept a position by anybody who’s basic tenet has it’s basis founded on unpublishable data escapes me.
    In the fullness of time this will be refined, yes there will be a small percentage of patients who experience some near insignificant side effects but the thrust will remain, even considering these effects the overall benefit is positive.

  5. Stephen Town

    I read Professor Collins astonishing comment that he had not fully reviewed the safety data for statins. How can anyone advocate the wider use of statins without fully understanding the harm they might do? The Sunday Express appears to have unnerved the good professor and he has found a temporarily defensible position, but one that raises so many questions. How could he vehemently criticise the BMJ article that discussed side effects when he hasn’t fully reviewed the safety data? In an e-mail to Fiona Godlee on 15th May 2014 Collins suggested that the authors should not be allowed to publish any future articles in the BMJ. This comes across as a breathtakingly arrogant attempt to close discussion about side effects. Professor Collins ‘challenging’ review will no doubt find that there isn’t a problem, or one so small that the public shouldn’t worry. I wonder how long he will be able to hold that line?

    The NNT (Number Needed to Treat to benefit one person) for statins is quoted as somewhere between 100 – 140. I wonder how many patients are told that this by their doctors? How many patients would take statins if they were given this crucial information? How seriously do doctors take informed consent?

    1. mikecawdery

      Collins himself recently claimed “if 3 million people were treated, it would ‘save’ 10,000. This is a NNT of 300. In the HPS an estimated 156 were ‘saved’ in five years in a group of circa 10260. Again this gives for a NNT p.a. of ~300.

      1. Paul v Nguyen

        Just wondering if Sir Rory or anybody of his family is taking a statin himself ?
        Akira Endo, the discoverer of statins, when asked if he is taking a statin, answered indirectly: ” The indigo dyer wears white pants” (indigo is a toxic dye)

          1. Jean Humphreys

            Yes, he did say he was taking a statin, and he had no side effects, but I think we need to quote the late Miss Rice Davies on that : “He would, say that , wouldn’t he?”

    2. Stephen Rhodes

      “How can anyone advocate the wider use of statins without fully understanding the harm they might do?”

      Sounds like a case of ‘plausible deniability’ to me.

      Without the whole lipid hypothesis we wouldn’t have the statin scandal, probably wouldn’t have the type 2 diabetes problem we have, nor the dementia/alzheimer’s problem, nor the congestive heart failure problem.

      Many thanks for writing ‘Doctoring Data’ Dr. Kendrick – I thought I had seen it all, but you illuminated several more dirty dark episodes dressed up as medical certaintly/established science that are nothing of the kind. Especially pleasing was the section of vaccinations, I always held the view that if they don’t challenge the immune system they can’t provoke a response – and in those who don’t stand up to the challenge there will be collateral damage.

  6. celia

    Well, as I don’t believe Professor Sir Rory Collins is up for a humiliating climb down, I guess it must be the latter option. I’ll believe he will face the truth when I see pigs fly. I do mean the REAL truth, not his version of the truth. Come on Sir Rory, forget your self image and your bank balance and remember why you do this work – to care for the health of the general public.

    1. mikecawdery

      Medical research integrity when it comes to drugs is dead. Money and status (prof, honours, knighthoods and even peerages) take precedence over everything

  7. Professor Göran Sjöberg

    I wonder about the hierarchy within medicine – could it be like the stronger the ‘belief’ part is versus the ‘scientific’ in an academic discipline the stronger must be the hierarchy?

    While in vain having tried to get two elderly relatives to quit with the statins we now see them rapidly deteriorate mentally. They just trust their GP.

    But from the GP upwards, how does it really look and is here professor Sir Rory Collins at the top and thus ‘untouchable’?

    1. mikecawdery


      Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord 2009;28:75–80
      DOI: 10.1159/000231980 Can be downloaded in full.
      Midlife Serum Cholesterol and Increased Risk of Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia Three Decades Later

      Change row titles in tables 2-4 to US recommended treatment which a medical insurance company would have followed. This does not change the number or statistics. You can use the numbers and aa simple chi-square test for your self. Result long term statin treatment (at least 80% would have continued treatment – 99% if youu believe Collins) increases Alzheimer incidence by ~58%.

    2. Stephen Rhodes

      It may be even worse than that, it is an overriding loyalty to the ‘System’ that drives these people to persist with damaging patients long after there is ‘any reasonable doubt’ that what they are doing is wrong.
      For example here is Lord Denning’s justification for denying the appeal of the ‘Birmingham Six’ (later freed after serving years for a crime they did not commit);
      “Just consider the course of events if their action were to proceed to trial … If the six men failed it would mean that much time and money and worry would have been expended by many people to no good purpose. If they won, it would mean that the police were guilty of perjury; that they were guilty of violence and threats; that the confessions were involuntary and improperly admitted in evidence; and that the convictions were erroneous. … That was such an appalling vista that every sensible person would say, “It cannot be right that these actions should go any further.””

  8. Jean Humphreys

    Oh, my! I have thought that his most recent pronouncements have been getting rather shrill – sounding like the offended dignity of the dowager who has been goosed by the gardener – but he must be feeling pretty bad by now. I am just glad that I am not a member of his family. It would be time to take that slow boat to China (leaving my statins at home)

  9. Alex

    I hope that more and more people will simply say No Thank You when a statin drug is pushed on them. My husband’s downward spiral and eventual death began with muscle pain from statins and ended up with his dependence on hydrocodone to manage that pain. At the time of his death, he was on more than fifteen medications so it is impossible to know just what the toxic mix did to him. It starts with overprescribing for fun and profit and ends in suffering and premature deaths.

    1. David Bailey

      It is awful to hear stories like that of your husband. I know just how horrible that pain is – but fortunately I stopped taking the statin before any permanent damage had been done.

      Quite apart from the other facts about statins, surely the medical profession could warn people that they should stop taking statins if they have muscle pains. The description of statin side effects as ‘muscle pains’ seems to me to be a deliberate, and criminal deception. Indeed, for a while my doctor and I thought I had something else!

      People take (or rather, are given) statins while in care homes! Some of them may be unable to explain what is happening to them – it is a true scandal.

      Statins must also reduce the amount of exercise that people do – which must, I imagine more than cancel out any slight benefit from these drugs.

  10. Craig

    Dear Malcolm, this is neither an humiliating climb down or a Machiavellian move, it is a SHINY NEW PAIR OF CLOWN SHOES, indeedy, and Dr Nissan who now favours a high fat diet also has a pair. Watch them attempt ‘dancing in the rain’ together. You’il laugh your socks off.

    Craig aka Blonzo..

  11. Susanna Psalios

    Just wanted to thank you for your book which I have just devoured (the Cholesterol Con). Funny how if you listen to patients they will often tell you what is wrong!! My mother always said that she and her own mother had a heart attack due to stress!! Also both my elderly parents were on Lipitor for about 5 years with a noticeable and seemingly rapid decline to heart disease and signs of dementia before shuffling off this mortal coil. For myself I am quite happy to tell my doctor what she can do with her statins if she should be so bold as to suggest it…probably not as I have been known to contradict her on many an occasion (I am a researcher in the health field). Thanks again for your logical and forensic approach…

    1. mikecawdery

      Dr Kendrick’s “Doctoring Data” is as good and his dry humour is entrancing. Well worth acquiring as a book or on Kindle

  12. GG

    To admit after all the high pressure pushing of statins that they had only examined the effect of statins on the heart and cancer and ignored all the other side effects is surely opening the gates for legal cases to be brought against them? And so it should. All those who have suffered because of the inadequate research done is shameful.

    Based on their adamant claims that statins are safe GPs and others doctors have been dishing statins out like sweets to everyone and anyone they can. Side effects have been ignored. Patients have been viewed as difficult. Their side effects have been not taken seriously – the benefits of the statins being claimed to far outweigh any side effects experienced. And now it is admitted that they have been lying. This is a disgrace and surely raises concerns about other research done or being done?

    Prof Rory Collins and his team should be legally have to hand over the data to another team not connected to them (or better still, two unconnected teams) for them to do the safety checks and the first assessment of ALL the evidence and not just the part that suits them.

    1. mikecawdery

      Indeed, in the US class action cases are already building up over statins causing diabetes. In the UK, the Govt. I understand, has excluded state aid for pursuing medical damage cases. This has lead to a Pharma tactic of blocking cases unless the plaintiff can provide a guarantee of a massive sum (eg £1 million) to pay for the costs should the plaintiff lose. Bang end of case!

      1. Jennifer

        Mike, I have discussed taking legal action re statin damage, with a medical negligence barrister, (here in UK). I am assured it would be the most difficult topic to action. Our GPs have been as much in the dark as the rest of us. But, in USA, where class action is permitted, it will be interesting to see what ensues.
        I do not wish to spend precious time going down that route, but I do want there to be massive changes in the way our health system, both NHS and private, are managed. I hate to say it, but political action is the only way, but as a disillusioned voter, I won’t hold my breath.

    2. Mary Richard

      Can anyone here find the upside in this news? I could sure use some positive comments or ideas as to what and how these new developments came about. That is…is anyone here on this blog surprised? Did you ever think Professor or Sir (he deserves neither title by the way but just out of respect for whomever he duped into thinking he was deserved of both) Rory Collins would contradict himself yet again? I have to wonder how many lawyers they hire to write the summaries on all their studies. And, I am most certain they are lawyering up as we write today. All these posts are wonderful and educational. There is nothing here we all have not heard before. What next? As our beloved Dr. Phil would say…put some verbs in these sentences.

  13. Kevin O'Connell

    When I studied The Prince many years ago, the author’s name was invariably shown as Niccolo Macchiavelli. Methinks maybe his first name is being changed (by deed poll) to PCSK9.

      1. Mary Richard

        Dr. Kendrick, I have been very encouraged by the current news. I am quite the positive thinker.
        I have finished your book and all I can say is WOW. As I read and re-read some chapters, I kept asking myself why you are so gifted as a writer, but most importantly as a thinker. This a.m, it struck me like a bolt of lightening.

        It is because you think much like a barrister. That is not by any means an insult (although I have met many I don’t find pleasant) but rather just another of your fine gifts for debating and looking at things from another perspective. That is why it is important for you to get into the debate before your Parliament. You argue both like a doctor and lawyer. You could really do even more than you have done with your pen. I would like to see you grab any opportunity to testify before your government. They just cannot beat you. You have made your arguments that are born of knowledge coupled with common sense and an discerning, legal, mind. Whether or not you like the label, you have an acute sense of justice.

        You may not want to post this one. It is just a suggestion and insight. I have been grilled by the best of the best lawyers too many to count. I know how they act and what and how they think. There is no doubt in my mind that your contribution has been to shake up the world of science. Your work is not yet done with this book or the next. Your testimony could turn this thing around more than you could ever think. Do it!

        Don’t post this unless you think it will help others. Maybe best left here. Just think on those words…I am going to say it again…just think on these words.

        God Bless,

  14. Maureen

    There is, or was, a parallel between the air industry and medicine, in that the “experts” were deemed to be infallible, and not to be questioned. This changed for the air industry after the UA disaster in Portland Oregon, and the KLM disaster in Tenerife, in the late 70s. Enquiries into those crashes resulted in a protocol called Crew Resource Management (CRM), which encourages and enables junior officers to question the Captain if they feel it is necessary. Apparently this has been very successful. I seem to remember this being discussed for the medical profession but has either not been done, or not successfully.

    The obvious difference between the two industries, is that a plane crash with loss of life is obvious, everyone gets to hear about it, and someone is made to “do something” about it. No one can deny it happened. But, as the old saying goes, “doctors bury their mistakes”. Individuals who suffer side effects and death are scattered about all over the place and it is so much easier to hide or ignore what has happened to a single person. Just look at what happened recently in Holland(?), I forget the details now, it was about people being prescribed a beta blocker before heart surgery, with an estimated 40.000 deaths resulting. Hope I’ve got that right. Anyway, I never saw any mention of that in newspapers, or on the t.v. news.

    A few years ago, here in Ontario, there was a pathologist who made a series of devastatingly wrong judgements about the cause of death of several children, which resulted in quite a few people being found guilty of murder or sexual assault, and who spent several years in jail before the evidence against them was reexamined. This pathologist was “the expert of the experts”, no one dared question his findings. Shades of Ancel Keys and Prof. Collins.

    1. mikecawdery

      This concept of Positive and Negative error cultures is well described by Gigerenzer, Gerd (2014-04-17). Risk Savvy: How To Make Good Decisions.
      As you say the aircraft industry has a very positive approach to error while the medical establishment has a very negative attitude relying on denial and defensive medical tactics.

      May be one day……………………………………..

  15. Fiona Weir

    Dear Dr Kendrick

    Not completely unrelated, I thought you might be interested in this morning’s Radio 4 programme ‘The Placebo Problem’ (11.00 repeated next Monday 21.00).

    With thanks and good wishes

    Fiona Weir

  16. Jennifer

    Dr K.
    As I sit here having a quiet hour to myself, I am mulling over some of the papers available on the internet that have highlighted the adverse effects of statins for at least 10 years. It is a sad state of affairs that so many of us have suffered because of a lack of integrity by the medical profession. And even worse…people will continue to be prescribed these toxins, unless action is taken promptly. Who is listening out there?
    We lesser mortals are not in a strong position to influence our loved ones, against the might of the medical establishment and the pharmaceutical industry. On Sunday morning, when he introduced the article about Prof Collins, Andrew Marr spouted out that he himself was on statins, and he felt perfectly well…..so, there you are…. these quiet, seemily considered, but subliminal messages, add to the problem of trying to highlight just how horrible statins can be.
    Do you believe an unknown granny called Jennifer, or put your faith in the popular, charismatic Andrew? It’s a no brainer for the pharmaceutical industry, they win hands down!

    1. Professor Göran Sjöberg

      What you say reminds me of my youth many years ago now training my guitar on the Bob Dylan song, which actually made him famous, “Blowing in the wind”.

      A few lines from the lyrics may apply here.

      “Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
      Pretending he just doesn’t see?
      The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind
      The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”

      1. Jennifer

        Yes, just how many did turn their heads, pretending they just didn’t see? . I was sort of giving GPs the benefit of the doubt….but as I checked earlier today, there have been critical and derogatory articles about statins circulating in the public domain for about 10 years now. Did they just overlook them? What about the Professional Development ticky boxes everyone has to complete these days? How come so many just let that subject ‘blow in the wind’?
        A stock retort from one of my GPs when I questioned drug safety and useage was…”well, a couple of us have just been on a weekend seminar discussing that very subject…and believe me, this is the best and safest course of action to take for your circumstances”. I think now, the tail end should have been…..” and we thoroughly enjoyed the sumptuous hospitality, and the prospect of some nice goodies coming our way”!
        The other stock answers…..”my mother takes them…..” wears a bit thin when you realise the car salesman always has a mother in law who drives the same car he is trying to sell me, and the telly salesman assures me that his dad swears by the latest, overpriced edition he is trying to flog.
        It’s just that I thought better of doctors……shame, isn’t it that they have gone down the route of Arthur Daley.
        Sorry, Dr K. I know you are doing your best….where/why did the others go so wrong? Surely, it can’t all be blamed on greed, or can it?

        1. mikecawdery

          No I think that most are scared of legal suit if they do not follow the DIRECTIVES issued by the seriously conflicted medical establishment and promoted by Big Pharma.

          Over decades working docs have been brainwashed into believing that their superiors are “right” with penalties if they challenge them. Lets face it, careers are dependent on those “superiors” and challenging them does not gain brownie points – quite the reverse.

      2. Flyinthesky

        Jennifer, I’d love to blame the GPs but I can’t, they are actually insisting you follow a regime that they believe in. Although they have a scientific qualification very few are practicing scientists.
        So in effect they are not turning their heads and not seeing, they are actively discouraged, with menaces, not to look.
        Doctors do a lot of ongoing training and updating of their skill sets, I would imagine that most if not all resource material is supplied by the drug companies.

    2. Stephen Rhodes

      I would be interested to know if Andrew Marr was taking statins before his recent misfortune, or if he was put on them afterwards.

    3. mikecawdery

      Re spacedoc and FB

      For nearly four decades patients and doctors alike, have been told that elevation of your cholesterol increases one’s risk of cardiovascular disease. Two generations of doctors have had their prescription writing habits formulated under the belief that cholesterol not only was associated with the process of atherosclerosis but, mysteriously, had become the cause. This miraculous transformation emerged during the time period 1960 to 1965 without one shred of research documentation and has remained our national health care policy until very recently.
      Have you noticed lately that doctors are less and less strident in their castigation of cholesterol the enemy? More and more doctors are increasingly relaxed about your intake of eggs, whole milk and butter. Yet the promotion of statin use by the drug companies has not subsided significantly, if there has been any change at all in drug advertising it has been towards increase. I predicted this change some time ago but the trigger was JUPITER. To read the entire article go to my website: http://www.spacedoc.com and search the title.

      The brainwashing continues!

        1. mikecawdery

          Dr Graveline (spacedoc) is often on facebook – wort joining for his comments alone. I believe he is involved in a study on a dolichol supplement, the details are on FB and I expect on his website.
          A recent item on FB was: (My comments in italic – unfortunately I don’t know how to get the graph into a comment. I have a pdf file of much of the original NHBLI claim for anyone interested – mike_cawdery@btinternet.com)

          I have been saying this now since 2000 when I discovered the inevitability of CoQ10 and dolichol and selenoprotein inhibition whenever statins are used to reduce cholesterol. Our present epidemic of congestive heart failure, especially over this last decade, has been a direct consequence of decreased CoQ10 with its resultant effect on mitochondrial ATP available to cardiac cells. That selenoprotein is also a contributory factor is thoroughly established, particularly from animal studies where heart failure often is associated with lack of selenium in the soils and grass of grazing animals.

          Comment: Back in the early 2000s both the CDC and NHBLI announced, on their web sites, that the US was suffering an epidemic of Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) but this was removed from both web sites without trace thereon. Their graph mimicked the sales graph of cholesterol lowering drugs and obviously the statin manufacturers objected and required that the information and the epidemic be removed.

          http://library.thinkquest.org/27533/facts.html This web site has since been archived

  17. Maureen

    Just took a look at the link Craig sent, the comments from a Professor of Nutrition at NYU…..is this one route the cholesterol/statin pushers will go, that you can eat as much cholesterol as you like, because if you are on statins, it won’t matter?

  18. Sue Richardson

    Machiavellian definately. I don’t know a great deal about P. Collins but what I’ve read assures me that this man will never climb down – humiliatingly or otherwise. It seems to me that he is very very uncomfortable to say the least and is trying his best to wriggle out of this without looking stupid – he isn’t. He does look stupid! And he sleep at night beats me. I too, feel sorry for his family!

    And can someone explain something to me in simple terms, because I just cannot work it out. Why is it that we are currently seeing articles in the news (Daily Express today for instance – article ‘Could the Caveman diet slash your risk of heart disease?’) telling us that actually the low fat diet is not good for us after all, and saturated fat is ok, as if this is all recently discovered news? The article quoted a Dr Carrie Ruxton’s ‘findings’, but Dr Kendrick, Gary Taubes and a host of other good people have not exactly been muttering in a corner for the past few years, so why is this being presented as revelatory?

    I have just finished reading Nina Tiecholz’ excellent book ‘The Big Fat Surprise’ (after seeing so many recommendations on this blog). The data relating to saturated fats, cholesterol (and statins for that matter) has clearly been suppressed, but it has been there, and no one can claim that it has suddenly been ‘discovered’. How are they getting away with this? I am constantly being puzzled, and have completely lost all faith in scientistts in general. I was discussing this with one of my sons the other day and he said : ‘I don’t believe any of them any more’. I suppose there must be some honest, open minded, ‘real’ scientists, but who and where are they? and how do you recognise them? Thank goodness for blogs like this.

    1. mikecawdery

      An explanation? Simple! Keys wrote a “gospel”. Everyone (mostly) accepted it. Skeptics were totally ignored, subservient medical journals rejected contradictory research; even when contradictory data got published, it was ignored or manipulated to appear to support the “gospel” or misquoted or……….

      In short the “gospel” was true, no ifs or buts……..

      Open-minded research – no way. I have many research papers that demonstrate this truth, among which I would include “AHA/NIHLB guidelines”, the HPS, the EU-WHO-monica study and so on.

      1. Sue Richardson

        That’s so depressing isn’t it? we will have to hope that the new generation of upcoming scientists will search the Internet and come across Dr Kendrick, Taubes, Nina Taicholz and all the others who really do know what they are talking about, and say “Hey, hold on – what’s going on?” or the scientific equivalent. That’s why it is so important for them to keep on and on, and not keep quiet. Of course they will think they have ‘discovered’ the truth themselves, but it will be worth it.

    2. Professor Göran Sjöberg


      I have now my nose in Nina Teicholz’ excellent book ‘The Big Fat Surprise’ – agree here.

      To me her book is of a little different approach to the nutrition history than Gary Taubes GC&BC, a book that was actually my big eyeopener into the field of medicine. People complained that GC&BC was ‘difficult’ but that was a book completely to my taste. Nina Teicholz’ book is though more smooth reading and the times are now also more ‘ripe’ I guess for this kind of a book.

      Your question about where the science is today is a good but a very ‘deep’ question to my understanding. I harbour, from my own perspective on ‘academia’, an increasingly dystopic view on this. We are continuously sliding away from experimental observations of our reality and instead turning into obscure computer ‘modelling’ based on assumptions rather than on facts. Then the models tend to turn into ‘reality’. The phenomenon of ‘more of the same’ type of research seems ubiquitous also in my own discipline of metallurgy.

      The situation in medicine though seems to be most revolting to me – quite incredible.

      1. Maureen

        Professor G, Gary Taubes book “Why we get Fat” was also my first eye opener. I bought it because of the title, I was always wanting to lose about 20lbs, but it changed my thinking altogether. (but I did lose the 20lbs). I agree with people who think it is difficult, I had to read it through three times before I really had some understanding. I have a nursing background, not a scientific background so at least some of the terminology was familiar. I then went on to read his Good Calories Bad Calories, which I found a little easier after struggling through the first one. Then on to “Big Fat Surprise” and “Death by Food Pyramid” by Denise Minger. Right now I’m into “The World Turned Upside Down, the Second Low Carb Revolution” by Prof. Richard Feinman.
        I also am really irritated by the present “risk management” strategies we are subjected to. We are being treated for risks, and not an actual disease, someone else said that recently, I think here on Dr. Ks blog. And when I hear things like: “this may help reduce the risk of……” steam starts coming out of my ears. What the heck does that mean, what a vague, imprecise and worthless thing to say.

      2. Professor Göran Sjöberg

        Now inside Nina Tiecholz’ book I just read about one of the early opponents to Ancel Keys diet-heart hypothesis, George Mann. Mann had convincingly proved that there was no connection between a diet mainly based on saturated fats, from meat, blood and milk, and heart failures, not least from his field studies among the Masai warriors in Africa.

        For a researcher in a natural science like metallurgy, it is almost unbelievable that obvious experimental findings in medicine can be so collectively suppressed just because they don’t meet a flawed dogma. If this is not religion, I don’t know what religion is. Anyway it is not science to me. Don’t look into the telescope if you want to keep your livelihood while in medicine!

        In medicine a philosopher of science like Karl Popper must be virtually unknown – except for Malcolm and likeminded of course.

        Understandably, marginalised by Keys and his cohorts, Mann evidently turned and died bitter. For me this is heartbreaking to read although I already knew this from reading Gary Taubes.

        1. mikecawdery


          Yudkin was publishing data on the dangers of sugar way back in the late ’60s. Ignored then and since. He has just updated his book below. Keys just shouted all opposition down.

          Yudkin, John (2012-11-01). Pure, White And Deadly: How sugar is killing us and what we can do to stop it (Kindle Location 1856). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.

  19. Pingback: Evidence-based dietary & statin guidance coming soon? » You must be nuts!

  20. Lew Stalwarter

    Is it possible that we are about to learn that some people did/do suffer side effects? Just in time for the launch of “Son of Statin”. The great new miracle drug for those unfortunates who are “intolerant” of statins. From every challenge an opportunity.

    1. mikecawdery

      I am afraid that is what will happen; with an avalanche of “dubious research” reports singing the “magnificent benefits” measured in relative rates to hide the reality of the results.

  21. David Bailey

    Dr Kendrick,

    I have just finished reading your book, “Doctoring Data”, and I am stunned by what it reveals! Your book should be required reading for every medical student, and everyone starting a career in medical research!

    I think just about everyone here has got your book, but anyone who hasn’t should certainly do so – even though it may change their relationship with their doctor!

    I have often wondered about the various meta-analyses that are used so much in medicine, but here the truth is exposed. The authors of one such analysis excluded two highly relevant studies with just one sentence: “Since both of these trials reported apparently unpromising results, we considered whether their inclusion would have been likely to change our conclusions.”

    I have also wondered if drastic surgery such as stomach bypasses can be all that safe (not that I am likely to need one), and sure enough the truth is not as rosy as one might think, and I was left wondering if a LCHF diet might be a safer alternative!

    You have explored so many areas of medicine – and I fear that some of what you have exposed, may get you into trouble. However, since you write so fluently, with so much knowledge, you could easily take up a career as a medical correspondent with a major news organisation.

    1. mikecawdery

      Meta-analyses are, in theory, an excellent idea – thought about the idea decades ago. However, there are basic flaws that are difficult to overcome. The first is the one you highlighted – selection. You can get any result you want by selection but the results are therefore not random as required by statistics.

      The second is that all studies, other than replicates or repeats, have various and many differences, which I suspect are never fully accounted for, particularly when the objective is a specific result. I could go on…………….

      1. David Bailey

        Since presumably each individual study is devised to have sufficient statistical power to detect a useful effect – say that statins are beneficial – the regular resort to meta-analyses seem to me to suggest that the useful effects – if any – are much smaller than expected. In other words, perhaps meta-analysis has encouraged an interest in very tiny effects that aren’t practically useful.

        I reckon the NHS could cut its drug bill substantially if patients were always told the NNT value!

        Your second point is very valid – and some of that variation may simply reflect the degree to which big pharma could manipulate the data. I wonder for example, if data relating to ongoing trials is stored on computers connected to the internet. Given the billions of dollars involved, this would seem to be an obvious vulnerability.

        Again, if you only need a small effect to be able to declare that a given treatment is useful, it makes it that bit easier to distort the data in one way or another to get the result you want!

        A reliance on meta-analysis also seems to distract from the shortcomings of the various individual trials of which it is composed. Maybe meta-analysis is great in an abstract statistical sense, but awful when you factor in human nature!

        1. mikecawdery

          Maybe meta-analysis is great in an abstract statistical sense, but awful when you factor in human nature!

          In my book that about sums up the value of meta-analyses.

          Regarding NHS savings, this whole system of “diagnosis by risk” is a disaster for patients but great for Big Pharma’s bottom line. Hence its use. The trouble is that when NNTs are >100, the probability of the individual patient NOT benefiting approaches certainty while the probability of adverse reactions may be substantial.

          The reliance on risk, in my book, simply demonstrates a lack of an effective clinical diagnosis and risk is used to cover-up this absence – a fudge. Way back in the 50s risk was important in infectious disease. In my own area at that time of cattle trypanosomiasis, challenge, later risk, it was important w.r.t. the duration of chemoprophylactic protection provided by a drug.

  22. Jennifer

    David, you have brought up a serious point which I thought about ….Dr K has been very brave getting his views published, and I too fear he may get into trouble. Isn’t it a shame that we have this fear?
    ‘saying it as it is’ ought to be commended, but we all know that straight talking (i.e being honest) threatens those shown to be wanting, especially in the realms of NHS. It is 25 years since Graham Pink hit the headlines….and look what happened to him…..and oh…how that kept the rest of us in our place, unless blessed with the bravery of the likes of Dr K.
    I can’t find words appropriate enough to thank him.

    1. Mary Richard

      Jennifer, Why should he fear? I am an American and I have seen things published and protected under the First Amendment I did not much care for. But, I respect a person’s right to do so. That is the price one pays for living in a democracy. Do you not have any similar rights? You may have a social medicine program, but come now, is your government that closed minded? God help the fool who dare debate Kendrick. I would sure hate to be on his bad side. That is meant to be a compliment, btw.

      1. BobM

        Even in the US, medical doctors do not have the full extent of first amendment rights. For instance, if a doctor was to refuse to give vaccines (eg, to children), he or she could be disbarred and his or her livelihood taken away. The doctor’s first amendment right to publishing a book about why vaccines are bad is protected; the doctor’s ability to refuse to give someone vaccines may not be.

        The same could be said for statins or any other drug accepted by the medical profession. If the medical profession says all doctors must prescribe statins to those people meeting certain criteria, a doctor may have to prescribe those drugs, regardless of his or her personal beliefs.

        1. mikecawdery

          The AMA and the AHA is all about allopathic medicines in cahoots with Big Pharma. It is a “closed mind” system that is defended to the last. It even attempts to medicalize vitamins and essential nutrients. You have problems in the US!

      2. Jennifer

        Hi Mary. Oh, that it was so, for the majority of workers…In the years I worked in the health business I spoke out when I thought things ought to be changed….I may sound self righteous, but it meant I slept tight on a night. I believe it was at the expense of climbing the greasy pole, especially as I continually upgraded my academic qualifications. I am complaining, because I needed to say what I said, and damn the consequences for my career. Fortunately, changes occurred, but I was the ‘unpopular Nurse’ because of being outspoken.
        I used to say….
        I will live on egg and chips, ( i.e. risk being sacked),rather than tow the line, when I know something is wrong. That was in the days when I was relatively poor and really did need my wages.
        I worked in stressful roles, and tended to worry somewhat, but I have never forgotten a piece of advice I was given…….”Jennifer, what you need is your ‘f..k-you money’, and then you will feel more comfortable speaking out like you do”. It was good advice, but not everyone achieves enough financial security in order to speak out in their place of work.
        Yes, we certainly have the right to speak out….but can we afford to?
        Oh dear, we are back to money again.

      3. mikecawdery

        Big Pharma and the medical establishment (hereinafter “they”) are no respecters of “democracy”. However, Dr Kendrick would be protected from attack because “they” would not dare going to court as this would result in the “commercially confidential” data ending up in the public domain; that would publicly destroy the “cholesterol myth” and their snakeoil propaganda.

    1. mikecawdery

      NICE would deny “wanting anybody” to be on statins. Their view would be that 10,000 deaths “saved” i.e., postponed, is a good thing and if 10 million needed to be treated to get this, that would be a good thing. They would also say that the number dying was going down (see ONS for cardiac deaths) was evidence of the good that their advice was good. However, I asked ONS what was the incidence of the total cardiac events were (fatal + non-fatal). They did not know though obviously the NHS must have the data. I conclude that this data will not see the light of day for “political reasons”. My suspicions are that non-fatal cardiac events are still on the rise due to obesity, diabetes, stress, drugs, etc but some medical treatments aid recovery – even statins (3 per 1000 p.a.)

      1. Mary Richard

        I agree with you on the legal attacks. What the hell are they going to sue him for…an opinion? Well if they are swearing a few in…there are many that need to fall in line to be sworn. Where I a government official, I would have a few questions for them, as well. I am outraged that more people are not outraged.

        That is what the drugging of a society causes. They say B/P meds, SSRI’s and many other medications are not “addictive”. But as soon as you decide you don’t want them, many people suffer terrible withdrawals. So much BS. Those buggers (oops can I use that word?) are killing us. Big Pharma doesn’t mind that they can’t sell as many of those cheaply made “scheduled” meds. They are not the big long term money makers anyway. And the number of rehab centers in the US is growing by leaps and bounds. Wonder who owns them? They are lush posh salons. Let’s blame it on the patient for being in pain due to God knows what then treat him or her to a luxury spa month. It is apathy that kills people! And unfortunately many drugs aside from those listed as “scheduled” cause a great deal of apathy and personality changes. So do open heart surgeries. My husband’s whole personality changed. When I walked into his recovery room and saw him so pale hooked up to all those machines and was told he just came off that heart lung machine, he looked dead. How could that not cause brain damage? But…they never told me that. I always thought it did, but was told I was misinformed. I was not informed at all. I just know personality changes don’t come about for no good damn reason. Dr. Kendrick finally made me feel like I was right in my gut all along. I am grateful to him and the likes of him for so much.

        You know my poor dad tried to tell us about this in the sixties and seventies. The drug culture he saw in the sixties really frightened him and he was not afraid of much. He scared the hell out of me. He talked about the Soviets and how they would not have to fire a shot on U.S. soil, that people would one day find they had slipped into communism through apathy. Is some of that true or just a member of the greatest generation’s paranoia after all they saw during the depression and WWII? I don’t know. I am not paranoid, but I think on those words sometimes and have to wonder if he was right all along. And…I tell my kids how terrible street drugs are and I am blessed that they listened to me. I scared the hell out of them too. However, maybe those are not the only drugs we needed to be concerned about.

        So transparency is the only answer to this debate. People need to be outraged about apathy! My dad did not have apathy, neither did Kendrick’s father nor anyone else on this blog. So…I say politics should work for everyone…not just the rich and famous so to speak. Because let’s face it. The vast majority of the “rich” or the “millionaires” are not those we typically imagine we see, but the hard working men and women with small and medium businesses who are the backbone of a free enterprise society!!! You would not even notice them much if they walked down the street, but they built it on their backs!! And…they are not out to impress anyone.

        Franklin Jones, Pundit-Humorist

        1. mikecawdery


          You express the “Big Pharma drug” problem very well. At nearly 82 so many of things that are now epidemics (obesity, diabetes Type2, chronic/congestive heart failure, Alzheimer’s) that are afflicting the population today were very rare and their increasing incidence seems to be in synch with the dietary and cholesterol “advice” and the uptake of that “advice”. But the apparent association is ignored while every attempt is made to distract from the seemingly obvious by concentrating on the irrelevant.

          Your comment My husband’s whole personality changed certainly rings a bell. While on statins several years ago I noticed that I was becoming exceedingly grumpy and bad-tempered. I now know that that was probably due to statins. Now I just get very cross about the abuse of research to promote the use of dangerous and pretty useless drugs; where efficacy rates in low single figures are hailed as success, while ignoring the far greater incidence of serious adverse events. Dr Kendrick is one of the few who are, at the risk of their professional careers, are standing up for the re-introduction of sanity into medical practice.

      2. Mary Richard

        We have become better able to intervene in heart attacks to keep people from dying. That if anything, is part of the reason why fewer people may die from a heart attack. We have become better at saving people in ER s, but we are not preventing much of anything in the last 20 years, nor are we extending lives by anything but a negligible amount. We really have not done what we need to do to help people lead healthy lifestyles. That is where the money should be spent.

        1. mikecawdery


          Absolutely. That is precisely why I asked the ONS for the incidence of cardiac events – fatal and non-fatal. Their lack of data on the subject did not surprise me – the usual medical establishment tactic of hiding negative and inconvenient data.

          All along I have contended that medical staff at the front line are doing their best for patients despite the “Directives” issued by the medical establishment (prompted by Big Pharma and its KOLs). The recent report (David M Diamond, Uffe Ravnskov. How statistical deception created the appearance that statins are safe and effective in primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology, 2015; 8 (2): 201 DOI: 10.1586/17512433.2015.1012494) and others demonstrate how this scam was operated.

  23. Fergus

    Thanks Mike

    I was on a blog site in America arguing against statins. And was getting soundly beaten by references to papers showing the benefits. I was wondering where the 40% of the population on statins figure came from.? statins number came from

    1. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick Post author

      I think that, currently, in the UK NICE recommendations would mean around fourteen million people should be taking statins. This would be at least 40% of the population over 50 (which is where statins are most likely to be prescribed). How many actually take statins…. I don’t think anyone really knows. Many more prescription are written, and given out by chemists, than go down people’s throats.

      1. mikecawdery

        Dr Kendrick,

        As I understand it GPs have various “databases” to fill in; cholesterol, diabetes and so on to fill in. In the US my brother does not take statins but his GP (?PCP?), while agreeing with him, still gives a prescription – called defensive medicine. I presume the same holds for the UK

        My local pharmacist told me that prescription filling for statins was way down. Frankly edicts from NICE and DoH are usually a good reason to do the opposite.

      2. David Bailey

        Out of interest, do GP’s get any feedback as to whether their prescriptions have been actually taken to a chemist?

    2. mikecawdery

      The following should provide you with references enough to destroy any opposition. Furthermore, the “pro-statiners” will never have seen them – they always ignore negative statin papers. And of course most of the pro-papers/reports have serious flaws. Prof. Gotzsche’s Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime is particularly useful in demolishing pro-supporters.

      Evans, David (2012-07-06). “Cholesterol and Saturated Fat Prevent Heart Disease” and Low Cholesterol leads to early death”( Both on Kindle)

      de Lorgeril, Michel (2014-03-05). Cholesterol and statins: Sham science and bad medicine (Kindle)- devastating demolition of the cholesterol myth.

      Sinatra, Stephen; Bowden, Jonny (2012-10-15). The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease(Kindle)

      Ravnskov, Uffe (2010-12-01). Ignore the awkward! How the cholesterol myths are kept alive (Kindle and paper back)

      And of course
      Dr Kendrick Doctoring Data (Paperback and Kindle)

    3. Mary Richard

      Fergus, just hold your ground and keep your position. I applaud your tenacity to speak your mind. You must educate the ignorant. That is what this is. It is not lack of I.Q., it is the state of mind of the brainwashed or the uninformed. People must look at where we have been to see where we are headed.

  24. Fergus

    Thanks again Mike.

    I’ll try and do a better job next time. What I couldn’t get them to understand was that 1.8% lives saved after 5 years on statins actually meant 1.8% would on average live 6 months more.

    Incredulity was the common emotion. They are a smart bunch and wanted references. The grapg in Dr Kendricks What is T article is very =powerful but I couldn’t tell them the references.

    1. BobM

      The problem is you’re going to have to tell them what the reference says, and not what the abstract of the reference says. There’s also the following, but I can’t tell where it’s been published: “How statistical deception created the appearance that statins are safe and effective in primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease”, David Diamond and Uffe Ravnskov.

      1. mikecawdery

        Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol. 2015 Mar;8(2):201-10. doi: 10.1586/17512433.2015.1012494. Epub 2015 Feb 12.
        How statistical deception created the appearance that statins are safe and effective in primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.
        Diamond DM1, Ravnskov U.
        Author information
        We have provided a critical assessment of research on the reduction of cholesterol levels by statin treatment to reduce cardiovascular disease. Our opinion is that although statins are effective at reducing cholesterol levels, they have failed to substantially improve cardiovascular outcomes. We have described the deceptive approach statin advocates have deployed to create the appearance that cholesterol reduction results in an impressive reduction in cardiovascular disease outcomes through their use of a statistical tool called relative risk reduction (RRR), a method which amplifies the trivial beneficial effects of statins. We have also described how the directors of the clinical trials have succeeded in minimizing the significance of the numerous adverse effects of statin treatment.
        absolute risk; adverse effects; cancer; dementia; hypercholesterolemia; myositis; relative risk; statins; trials
        PMID: 25672965 [PubMed – in process]

  25. chmeee

    And now, to make a change from Dr. Kendrick’s love of Shakespeare, something from the Rubaiyat, which rather says it all:

    “Ah Love ! could thou and I with Fate conspire
    To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,
    Would not we shatter it to bits – and then
    Re-mould it nearer to the Heart’s Desire !”

    Thank you and good night

  26. Dr Liz Stansbridge

    Unfortunately almost everything we are told is rubbish. Our society is run by profit motives.
    They will say anything to make a sale. Truth has nothing to do with anything.
    Normally I mute the ads on TV. As a trial tonight I listened. Someone telling me that a dishwasher tablet (twice the price of the one I use) is so superior.
    My dishes clean perfectly.
    Buy a certain painkiller, it is so much faster than paracetamol/ibuprofen.
    Huh? you need something faster than 10 mins, do you have an intracerebral bleed?
    Buy a new car.
    What ditch my economical little car, lose a couple of thousand driving it out of the showroom?
    Betting is fun!
    But be ‘bet aware’ (i.e. it is not our fault if you gamble away your livelihood, lose your house and family, you weren’t sensible!)
    Even you Dr K., do you know when one looks up the ‘Great Cholesterol Con’ on Amazon, we are presented with a ‘buy another book, get a reduced price offer’. What is the other book? It is ‘Cut Your Cholesterol’ by Dr Sarah Brewer!
    I know this is not your fault, Dr K, it is Amazon. But this is the society we live in and it sucks.
    What is the alternative? Communism turned out to be even more corrupt than capitalism.
    We can only hope that things get better little by little, and voices such as you lot on this blog will gradually be heard.
    At the ripe old age of 58, it seems to me that our society is the most corrupt it has ever been.
    Is that true and the scales have just fallen from my eyes, or were things more innocent 30 years ago?

    1. David Bailey


      You sound exactly like me, and as I replied to you earlier, we also both left science in disillusionment!
      However, I think that one additional con that is played on us, is to pretend that there are just two possible systems – communism or ruthless capitalism.
      Perhaps it wouldn’t take that much to fix the system we have. For example, if we made those responsible for crime within the pharmaceutical industry, pay with long jail sentences, a lot would change overnight. The same solution would work with the bankers!

      Ancel Keys was living off his phoney research even further back than 30 years, and Jimmy Savile was doing what he did while others turned a blind eye just at the very
      time when things seemed more innocent! Also, a little earlier, the Americans were tricked into a war in Vietnam, just as we were tricked into a war in Iraq.

      Without the internet, I would see no hope for Western society, but as it is, news is spreading. If I were Rory Collins, I think I would wake up at night in a cold sweat thinking of the mountain of evidence on the internet, and all the angry people who have been hurt by statins, and who can read the truth.

      I used to believe in global warming until a whistle-blower sent a lot of email messages between ‘climate scientists’ to WikiLeaks, and hence to anyone who was interested – there is another scandal just waiting to explode!

    2. mikecawdery

      Dr Liz,

      How right you are – a lovely piece to be savoured and at the tender age of 58! Just think about how I feel rapidly completing my rising 82nd year.

    1. Stephen Rhodes

      This is frightening and frightful.

      What the pharmaceutical companies are seeking to achieve when they push cholesterol lowering with PCSK9 inhibitors is to reverse natural selection. Damaged, genetically sub-optimal, people with low expression of the PCSK9 gene suffer as a result of low levels of circulating cholesterol, but rather than seeing this as a problem for those people, drug company bean counters and cholesterol-reduction zealots have decided that we should all be reduced to the same diseased state.

      Frankly, Nicolae Ceaușescu did less damage than the pushing of PCSK9 inhibitors will cause, but for some reason I cannot fathom these drug pushers won’t suffer the same fate.

      1. David Bailey

        One thing I am unclear about, is how much of the side effects of statins are directly due to the lowering of cholesterol! Since PCSK9 inhibitors are supposed to achieve even lower levels of cholesterol, might we not expect some of the statin side effects – only with greater intensity?

        I shan’t let them experiment on me with these drugs – once bitten, twice shy!

        BTW, has anyone seen this:


    2. mikecawdery

      The second URL had comments such as this one:
      Comment: pharma guy wrote:
      In the old days before the miracle of statins patients post heart attack would stay in bed for six weeks and refer to themselves not as heart patients but as cardiac invalids. Folks have short memories.
      My Comment: What BFM! The six strict bed rest was dropped after NASA studies showed that strict bedrest used acclimatization research for space weightlessness seriously damaged young, healthy mens’ hearts. Statins only became available in the late 1980s long after the change.

      This is a classic example of some so-called “professionals” but the article itself clearly demonstrates that many doctors are still brainwashed and are unprepared to look at the real facts.

      I was interested to see that 11% of patients with high cholesterol are considered to be intolerant to statins by the physicians surveyed, and they estimate that only 45% of their patients do not sufficiently achieve lowered cholesterol goals

      It is clear that “MONEY” is motivating this desire to use the new drugs! To hell with “FIRST, DO NO HARM

  27. crandreww1999

    Heather, thanks for the links….what a tragedy that continues to unfold as we continue our errored battle against one of the most valuable molecules in our bodies…Cholesterol. I am a member of a Statin Side Effects Facebook group, and the number of members have more than doubled in the past 7 weeks. If anyone wants to join, the members are mostly adverse effects victims, a few Cardiologists, Researchers and other experts. https://www.facebook.com/groups/statins/

  28. Professor Göran Sjöberg


    As far as I remember the practice of a very strict bed rest was challenged already during the early 50-th by a daring head of a clinic (I tried in vain to find his name and the reference book in my book shelf) facing the fact that half of his MI-patients didn’t survive the dogmatic six weeks tied to the bed ordain and to the horror of his staff began ‘experimenting’ by having the patients comfortably seated instead and thus dramatically increased the survival rate.

    I guess the bed rest practice was ‘ingrained’ but to my own luck it was definitely abandoned 1999.

    Today I don’t trust any medical practice except when they suggest physical activity to improve your health.

    1. mikecawdery


      I think it was NASA research on weightlessness in  which Dr Graveline was involved that provided the key link.  Like the Helicobacter pylori saga no apologies for the flawed previous advice was ever given.  The “gurus” are never man enough to own up to their mistakes!


  29. rdfeinman

    Medicine seems to prefer cut-and-dried formal statistical measures but maybe it helps to step back and look from common sense point of view. Statins are offered as a automatic treatment, following from high cholesterol or high LDL almost like antibiotics for infections. At the same time, papers continue to appear whose point is that they are effective, not subtleties but whether they are good at all. Papers appear showing risk for diabetes or whatever. If statins are so good, why are we still debating it? Whose testing the efficacy of penicillin? Can we at least establish that statins are not miracle drugs if they work at all? Or, going way out on a limb, can we suggest that this is a controversial field where we can’t say that we have the answer, where there are differences of opinion among qualified experts.

    1. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick Post author

      That all sounds far too reasonable to me. Good or bad, black or white….that’s the way it all seems to go. My view is that we are still debating it because upon cholesterol lowering rests a vast financial empire. Some may see that as cynical.

      1. David Bailey

        Dr Kendrick,

        If it were up to you, would you prescribe statins for any patients, or remove these drugs from the list of approved medicines? I.e. do you think their benefit (to patients who have had a CVD event) ever exceeds the harm they do?

      2. Spokey

        This is why I only want unusual diseases that don’t have cash cow pharmaceuticals attached to their names. Oh, hang on a sec….

    2. mikecawdery

      What worries me is that, for example, the (in?)famous HPS study was designed as a 2×2 factorial but the result of study based on the standard statistical method for such a design was never published. This I find to be very peculiar; the “benefits” claimed were based on a secondary analysis; the reason for this was never explained.

      The 2×2 factorial analysis would have provided probabilities for the following:

      1) treatment 1 (simvastatin)
      2)Treatment 2 (the anti-oxidant Vitamin “cocktail”)
      3) The interaction.
      Int J Clin Pract. 2002 Jan-Feb;56(1)-53-6

      Had Treatment 1 (simvastatin) been significant, i.e., p < 0.05 this would have been trumpeted around the world. After all that was the primary purpose of the study. I conclude therefore the Treatment 1 WAS NOT SIGNIFICANT

      Treatment 2 (Vitamin “cocktail”) was rubbished but the “cocktail” EXCLUDED CoQ10 which is extremely odd and unexplained as MERCK hold at patent combining simvastatin and CoQ10. An attempt to distract perhaps.

      The interaction was ignored. I suspect that it too was not significant thus allowing the combination of the two statin groups (statin only and statin with vit cocktail) but was the p value greater or less than the p value of the statin alone? Never published but when the two statin groups are combined – WOW All Hail significance is found.

      The main HPS report is reported Lancet 2002;360: 7-22. Where the original design is simply ignored and the fact that the “statin” group was actually a combination of statin only with statin plus Vit cocktail

      And I am supposed to believe the results of this study? Sorry this manipulation is not acceptable. Unfortunately, many of the “supportive statin studies” are equally flawed.

      For a real recent demolition of the diet-heart-cholesterol-statin MYTH please read:
      de Lorgeril, Michel (2014-03-05). Cholesterol and statins: Sham science and bad medicine Kindle Edition.

        1. mikecawdery

          I always took it that the original patient (aka guinea pig) list was circa 60,000+ reduced to 20,500+ which is nearer 2/3rds. May be some were explained? Whatever the number the unexplained exclusion is bad science and the extrapolation of the SARs founded in a selected, TOLERANT group is grossly flawed. In my letter to NICE I suggested that if they seriously wanted to reduce adverse reactions to statins, they should use Collins’ exclusion criteria. Never got a response to that!

  30. Gilles Mongeau

    Machivalian move? Here is one for this side of the debate. Why not start using statistics to report the side effects of statins in the same way the drug industry uses it to report the “benefits”.

    For instance the following study could provide the media with an interesting headline: “Study involving 106,000 users shows statins to increase the frequency of cataracts requiring surgery by 200%”


    Of course there could be a last paragraph explaining what it means in a way people will have the correct understanding and explaining that statins “benefits” are calculated in the same way. The reporting of other side effects on the same basis would be far more effective. How could the infamous Sir object?

    Another interesting aspect of this finding is that it illustrates so well how the side effects of statins are difficult to segregate from the effects of aging.

    Dr Kendrick, I would like to express my appreciation for your efforts and utmost admiration for your perseverance and courage in this battle.

  31. Professor Göran Sjöberg

    What has struck me since I poked my nose into the field of ‘medicine’, and specifically what relates to CHD, is that there is no sense in attacking one of the most important building stones, the cholesterol, in our bodies by blocking the synthesis. To me all the official dogmas about this are actually nonsense.

    Again, I now realised, having just finished Nina Teicholz great “THE BIG FAT SURPRISE”, how Professor Ronald Krauss in vain ‘rediscovered’, 50 years later what the eminent physicist John Gofman already had established in the early 50-th, about the different lipoproteins in our blood. Specifically Krauss findings blow the dogma about the harm of LDL into pieces. Although Krauss was at the absolute nutritional top his meticulous scientific research outcomes were still met with complete silence for the very simple reason that the acceptance of these finsings would also have destroyed the whole statin industry – could not happen!

      1. Mary Richard

        WMA Declaration of Helsinki – Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects

        This Declaration of Helsinki provides for the protection of trial participants and has been revised many times since its inception in June 1964 until its last revision in October, 2013. However, in looking over the Ethics involving human and animal subjects in medical research, these are guidelines worldwide.

        The unfortunate thing about all this is that these are not laws. They simply give physicians and researchers an idea as to exemplary ethical behavior with regard to scientific trials. Only laws can hold researchers accountable for criminal behavior. However, they are a good start and everyone on this blog should take a close look.

      2. Stephen Rhodes

        Pedantically, I was always told that as
        “There are none so blind as those that won’t see, and none so deaf as those that won’t hear”

    1. mikecawdery

      A bit off topic but I could not resist posting this titbit
      “Note this advert (Saga Magazine December p. 153. Bioglan “Making life easier for MILLIONS of statin users” Stat-Guard which contains CoQ10, Vitamin E and zinc; available at Boots, Holland & Barrett and Tesco. Apparently this a viable product despite the vehement Collins claim to the contrary. Some body should inform the dear knight – someone has got it wrong!

      Back to topic
      What’s worse, insulin resistance is the forerunner of type 2 diabetes, a condition associated with a doubling of Alzheimer’s risk. In a recent report in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. (link is external), Mayo Clinic researchers showed that individuals favoring carbohydrates in their diets had a remarkable 89% increased risk for developing dementia as contrasted to those whose diets contained the most fat. Having the highest levels of fat consumption was actually found to be associated with an incredible 44% reduction in risk for developing dementia.

      and re Selenium, coxsackie virus, cardiac disease and diabetes.

      Nicholas Gonzalez M.D. – Scientifically No Polio Vaccine was Needed

      “………During the 1960s, before China had opened to the world, the disease became so significant a problem that the government invited Western researchers to help find Keshan’s cause and cure. Subsequently, these smart scientists honed in on a new and particularly virulent strain of Coxsackie that appeared be the definitive culprit. In the years that followed and with the “cause” known, the ‘race for the cure,” that is a viral cure, went into full swing.

      However, some bright epidemiologists looking at the incidence province by province noted that Keshan’s was only to be found in epidemic proportions in certain areas, leaving others, sometimes adjacent to the danger zones, free of the disease. Since the affected provinces were not necessarily geographically isolated from the Keshan-free regions (by mountain ranges for example) physical separation seemed not to be an issue. Further, since the Chinese are a relatively genetically homogeneous population, bizarre DNA defects were not thought to be at fault.”

      Proc Nutr Soc. 2002 May;61(2):203-15. The argument for increasing selenium intake.
      Rayman MP, Rayman MP

      “……While deficiency has an adverse effect on immunocompetence, Se supplementation appears to enhance the immune response. Se appears to be a key nutrient in counteracting certain viral infections; thus, in a Se-deficient host the benign coxsackie virus becomes virulent (Keshan disease), causing heart damage, the influenza virus causes more serious lung pathology and HIV infection progresses more rapidly to AIDS.”

      Orv Hetil. 1994 Jan 16;135(3):115-8.Links
      [Relationship between selenium deficiency and high mortality and morbidity of cardiovascular diseases] [Article in Hungarian]
      Bogye G, Fehér J, Georg A, Antti A.
      “…..The results of human studies investigating the relationship between vascular diseases and selenium deficiency are summarized. It is concluded that selenium deficiency together with other harmful (prooxidant) effects may be responsible for the poor health status of the Hungarian population and therefore the importance of long term selenium supplementation in the prevention of such diseases is stressed.”

      J. D. H. Morris, Viral Infection and Cancer, The Lancet, 1995, Vol. 346, pp. 754-8.
      13. G. B.Clements et al., Coxsackie B Virus Infection and Onset of Childhood Diabetes, The Lancet, 1995,
      Vol. 346, pp. 221-3.
      M. Horwitz et al., Diabetes Induced by Coxsackie Virus: Initiation by Bystander Damage and Not
      Molecular Mimicry, Nature Medicine, 1998, Vol. 4, pp. 781-5.
      14. R. Gallo et al., Frequent Detection and Isolation of Cytopathic Retroviruses from Patients With AIDS and at Risk for AIDS Science, 1984, Vol. 224, pp. 500-3.

      It seems that ROS plays a major part in many diseases and anti-oxidants CoQ10, glutathione (Se) and Vit C and E all contribute.

      1. Maureen

        “It seems that ROS plays a major part in many diseases and anti-oxidants CoQ10, glutathione (Se) and Vit C and E all contribute.”
        Mike, I am confused by this last sentence, I don’t think you meant that CoQ10, glutathione (Se) and Vit C and E all contribute to disease states, or did you, and I missed something?

          1. Jennifer

            Mike, I am delighted to hear that you have time to enjoy a lovely meal with your lady wife…..because with all the research papers you are sharing with us, you must be spending a lot of your valuable time doing so.
            Your selfless generosity is in direct contrast to the awful stories emerging on this blog regarding so-called experts.
            Many thanks, Jennifer.

          2. mikecawdery

            Thank you Jennifer for your kind words. I have time, retired rising 82, married 53 years and thanks to Dr Kendrick and his THINCS colleagues, off statins, HCLF etc and with the old grey cells still, at least partially, alive, kicking and thoroughly disgusted at the antics of the “medical (so-called) establishment whose lack of scientific integrity appalls me.

      2. Mary Richard

        I have read this and can’t deny the importance of glutathione and selenium. Dr. David Perlmutter has done some interesting work with injecting his Parkinson’s patients with glutathione. However, the effects only last about an hour and a half. I took a supplement which was supposed to help your body to up regulate glutathione on its own. I took it for quite some time (ran out) but I stopped taking it once because I thought it made me sick. I had this horrible rotten eggs/sulfur taste in my mouth. Later I read that glutathione does that. So, I cut back the dose of that supplement and have done just fine. I have to go to someone to order them online so I forget to keep them on a consistent basis. I never am without Ubiquinol (CoQ10) and vitamin D plus a general vitamin.

        I would like to add this. I think your sharp mind and contribution to this online research are so incredible. I would never have thought you would be pushing 82. And I would love to know your secret. I think I can guess it though.

        The only health issues my now 88 year old aunt EVER had were right after they put her on a high dose 80mg statin. Shortly after, she developed leg pain. She complained to me constantly. She developed cataracts and had them surgically removed. Finally one day she said she needed a hip replacement. I was surprised. But I asked her to give me a list of her medications. That was when I discovered she was taking an 80mg dose of statin and in looking at the date, it coincided with the time when she began to complain of leg pain. I never heard her complain prior of ANY PAIN . I begged her daughter to get her off these. The doctor agreed and she has recovered just fine but I hate to think what would have happened to her had I not intervened. My poor mother much younger than her sister, on the other hand, is hopelessly brain damaged. She is off statins, but I don’t see too much improvement. She also has always been on a low fat diet. You can’t change her mind on that however. I don’t try. I am grateful to have her alive.

        Best most nutrient dense vegetable today? Bell Peppers. They come in green, red, yellow varieties. My aunt who is so very healthy has cooked with them and eaten them raw for as far back as I can recall. They are delicious with a little salt and a great substitute for carbs, even fruit since the sugar content is very low. I use them in place of wheat crackers for dips. So, you HFLC followers, try them. They are great, low in calories, and so nutrient dense, it is hard to believe they have so many health benefits. They have many of those anti-oxidants/vitamins you mention on your post which help us fight a myriad of diseases.

        1. mikecawdery


          Many thanks for your kind words. I suppose that it is part genetic, part working (with Vet generic drug companies -expert reports etc) and a life in research; retired 78 but the urge to search is still so strong.

          I find it incredible that an old lady of 88 is put on statins. I am sure that Dr Kendrick would agree that there is no evidence (even Big Pharma owned) that would support such prescription.

          Selenium, as you say, has problems. I get my supply from Healthspan, a Guernsey company. It is just one of many nutrients/minerals/vitamins that are ignored by the allopathic medical establishment in their desire to sell drugs. Another one I favour is magnesium because it is involved in so many biological processes. Vit C is made by most mammals; man is one of a tiny minority that is deficient in this respect; dogs for example, when sick from an infection, can massively increase their production to counter it. But virtually ignored by the medical establishment, and so on and on……………

          This is the story of a NZ farmer who was condemned to death by doctors but saved by family insisting on Vit C therapy

      3. Jennifer

        Mike, the selenium link is fascinating.
        As a life long domestic bread maker, I became aware, about 20 years ago, that modern Northern European wheat flour was deficient in essential selenium, ( following many years of extraction from the soil), I thus sourced my bread flour from North America, but it was much dearer than the run of the mill stuff I was using, so I conveniently dismissed the selenium information as an expensive fad, and returned to the cheap stuff.
        Some time later I was diagnosed as type II, and at this point my apparent need for carbs was increased….so I was told!….and my bread-making increased….more’s the pity…..as I thought I was doing the correct thing. In fact, I would boast to the diabetic nurse that I devoured fabulous home made loaves of all descriptions, and was given the nod every time. 10 out of 10, Jennifer, for following instructions.
        The atrocious, factory produced, nutrient-deficient product that the general population is consuming in the name of bread, must be contributing to the diabetic/obesity/cancer explosion we are experiencing, and although we ought not to focus on one particular theme as being totally responsible….e.g. excessive carb intake…..I do think these conditions are due to deficiencies of vitamins and minerals that the average person cannot possibly know about …..after all…bread is bread, is the staff of life…. but surely …the food manufactures must know all this?
        Garbage in—garbage out, so they say.

  32. Maureen

    Mary, I’ve also been taking a supplement which contains a glutathione precurser, cysteine. It is an undenatured whey protein isolate. I’ve been taking this for 3 years now since I learned that glutathione is essential as an antioxidant in the alveolar space, and that people like myself with Ideopathic Pulmonary Fibroses have been found to be deficient in glutathione. The problem is, it’s quite expensive. Because of that I tried to cut it down, or out, three times. Each time, within a week or so I noticed more fatigue, it was pronounced. And each time I started taking it again the fatigue went away. So that’s enough for me, I will continue with it and damn the expense. This product doesn’t have a rotten egg taste at all. I believe it is a major factor in the disease not progressing for nearly three years, that plus ubiquinol, Vit D, and curcumin. Sad to say I am no longer able to tolerate any alcohol, I don’t know why, it just makes me ill even after half a glass of my beloved red wine. But then, on the other hand, alcohol depletes glutathione, so there is a sort of upside to that!

  33. Fiona Weir

    Dear Dr Kendrick

    Hasn’t the British Heart Foundation got it completely wrong about fat in the diet?

    Best wishes

    Fiona Weir

  34. Fiona Weir

    Dear Dr Kendrick

    Most of this INH audio is sales talk, but is there any truth in what they are saying about the ingredients of flu vaccination? Do you have one yourself! Is it something you could tell us about before the next flu season?

    With best wishes

    Fiona Weir

  35. Fiona Weir

    Dear Dr Kendrick

    I wonder if Watch Online below, Michael Marmott, ‘The Health Gap’, would be of interst to you?

    With best wishes

    Fiona (one of your blog enthusiasts)

  36. Fiona Weir

    Dear Dr Kendrick

    I’m very pleased to see this listed on the Conway Hall Ethical Society Meetup site and have added an encouraging comment. I look forward very much to meeting you.

    With best wishes

    Fiona Weir

  37. Fiona Weir

    Dear Dr Kendrick

    I’m sure you’ll pick this up from the BMJ but you might also like to see this Washington Post comment if it hasn’t come your way.

    Good health

    Fiona Weir

  38. Roy Butler

    I would like to say thank you to Dr Kendrick for his valiant battle to educate people about the dangers of statins, I’m sure that you have probably saved more lives than any statin drugs. I have constant discussions with medical personnel (no doubt well meaning but misinformed) assuring me that it is imperative I take statins for my health but their minds are closed to anything but the much repeated statin mantra. Keep up the good work.

  39. Stephen Rhodes

    And just as you predicted, the ‘new look’ at the ‘data’ by Professor Sir Rory Collins has concluded that his original report was right all along and Statins have been unfairly accused of causing ‘side effects’.

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