Dr. Marcia Angell, past editor of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, made the statement “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines.” This powerful warning recently hit home when a medical colleague sent me an article on pharmaceutical grade fish oil that was published in The New England Journal of Medicine. It was labeled, Original Article. The title, Cardiovascular Risk Reduction with Icosapent Ethyl for Hypertriglyceridemia, was an attempt to convince practitioners to prescribe a commercial product to reduce cardiovascular risk. The article had twelve authors, M.D.s and Ph.D.s, numerous graphs and charts, and thirty-eight references to impress physicians and convince them to prescribe the researched product, REDUCE-T.
At first glance the reader is impressed with the credentials, data, and references, however, when one carefully reads the article it becomes clear it is nothing more than an illusion. Why? Because on the very first page under the heading of Results, it clearly states, ” A larger percentage of patients in the [Test Group], icosapent ethyl group, than in the placebo group were hospitalized for atrial fibrillation or flutter (3.1% vs. 2.1%.” It also stated, “Serious bleeding events occurred in 2.7% of the patients in the [Test Group], icosapent ethyl group and in 2.1% in the placebo group.” The real kicker comes on page seven where it states, ” …the rates of all individual and composite ischemic end points were significantly lower in the [test group] icosapent ethyl group than in the placebo group, including the rate of cardiovascular death (4.3% vs. 5.2%);” Do the math. Taking the recommended substance gives you a .9%, not even a one percent, advantage of not dying.
Is there any wonder why physicians with brains and patients are becoming disillusioned with medicine.
Download PDF: Cardiovascular Risk Reduction with Icosapent Ethyl for Hypertriglyceridemia: Deepak L. Bhatt, M.D., M.P.H., P. Gabriel Steg, M.D., Michael Miller, M.D., Eliot A. Brinton, M.D., Terry A. Jacobson, M.D., Steven B. Ketchum, Ph.D., Ralph T. Doyle, Jr., B.A., Rebecca A. Juliano, Ph.D., Lixia Jiao, Ph.D., Craig Granowitz, M.D., Ph.D., Jean-Claude Tardif, M.D., and Christie M. Ballantyne, M.D., for the REDUCE-IT Investigators*