In my book, The Statin Disaster, I detail the statistical sleight-of-hand Big Pharma utilizes to make statins appear more beneficial than they actually are.
Big Pharma reports all statin studies using what is called a “relative risk analysis.” Relative risk indicates the strength of a causal factor in producing a result (for instance, the influence of a risk factor for developing a disease).
The problem is that relative risk analysis can exaggerate the effectiveness of a drug or a therapy.
A more accurate measure of a drug’s effectiveness would be absolute risk difference, which is the difference between the rate of effectiveness for an experimental group versus a control group.
This measure is more clinically important than relative risk difference for deciding whether or not to recommend a drug therapy.
Nearly all articles that report on drug studies fail to calculate absolute risk difference; therefore it is up to readers to calculate that important information on their own.
Unfortunately, probably 99 percent of doctors are unable to calculate the absolute risk difference when reading a medical article.
That’s why I make sure that by the end of his or her rotation in my office, a medical student will be able to explain the difference between absolute and relative risk, and how to calculate it.
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