Catalyst statin broadcast proven to have impacted drug dispensing rates

It is estimated that more than 28,000 catalyst did change statin use in AustraliaAustralians ceased statin treatment after the airing of a Catalyst series in 2013, according to a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

However, there was a return to the average levels of statin use after 18 weeks.

The two-part Catalyst special edition, titled Heart of the Matter, aired on 24 and 31 October 2013. It questioned the link between high cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease, and suggested that the benefits of statins had been overstated and the harms downplayed.

A statement on the ABC website says:

“Following a number of complaints, the ABC’s independent Audience and Consumer Affairs Unit investigated the programs. While acknowledging the importance of public health issues relating to the efficacy of heart disease treatment and the contrasting opinions of highly-qualified scientists, the A&CA has concluded that while both programs met the ABC’s editorial standards for accuracy, a section of part two was found to breach impartiality standards. The full investigation report can be viewed here
Please note: As was emphasised in the Heart of the Matter program, viewers should not make any changes to their prescribed regimen of medications without seeking appropriate medical advice.”

A team of researchers from the University of Sydney and the Australian National University studied any changes in the dispensing of statins after the airing of the Catalyst program. The results and conclusion can be viewed in this Tweet:

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Image: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration – Wikimedia commons

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