Professor Peter Gotzsche, featured in Statin Nation II has recently been fired from the Cochrane Collaboration - the organisation he helped to establish.
The Cochrane Collaboration is (or was) a highly respected international medical research organisation specialising in systematic reviews of the clinical evidence on a wide range of medical issues.
The idea of the Cochrane Collaboration was to provide a view of the clinical evidence that has not been tainted by commercial interests. This is a tall order since almost all of the data available to them has already been put through big pharma’s marketing machine - the raw material available to the Cochrane Collaboration (the data) has already been controlled or manipulated to some extent by industry. Nonetheless, Cochrane have been able to do some very useful analysis and publish influential and important reports.
Professor Peter Gotzsche has personally worked hard for decades to expose medical corruption and he has not held back in his strong criticisms of the pharmaceutical industry. Viewers of Statin Nation II will recall Gotzsche referring to pharmaceutical companies as engaging in “organised crime”.
We might expect that Gotzsche’s critique of big pharma is a good fit for Cochrane, and for a while it seems to have been. However, the Cochrane board recently voted 6 to 5 in favour of booting him out. And 4 of the 5 who wanted to keep him in have also since resigned.
In Statin Nation II, back in 2015, concerns were raised about the Cochrane Collaboration in relation to an apparent U-turn in their view of the clinical evidence for statins. Video clip below:
Later in the film during the interview with Professor Ebrahim, I asked for the best evidence that supports the notion that statins extend life expectancy. Professor Ebrahim referred me to the CTT data and the CTSU in Oxford- which has huge issues that have also been discussed in the film and elsewhere around the world. Also in another blog post available here.
It wasn’t just the all-cause mortality data that was a potential problem but also Professor Ebrahim’s unwillingness to accept that statins have significant adverse effects. It wasn’t possible to include all of this discussion with Professor Ebrahim in the film itself but the full one hour interview is included in the extras and complete package.
I have to say that during the making of Statin Nation II towards the end of 2014, after I interviewed Professor Ebrahim, I contacted Professor Gotzsche and urged him to take a look at the Cochrane reviews of statins. I was already concerned that the reputation of the Cochrane Collaboration would be tarnished by the inconsistencies in the published positions. Unfortunately, Professor Gotzsche took no action on this at that time and instead referred me back to Dr. John Abramson, who is featured in the first Statin Nation film but has nothing to do with Cochrane. I was disappointed by this at the time, and now I can’t help thinking that if action had been taken then, the Cochrane rot could have been postponed and Peter would still have his job.