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Adverse drug events

Studies linking statins and memory loss may be flawed

Researchers suggest that detection bias may be the reason why statins have been associated with memory impairment. In the image, a blister pack of statins


Patients who use lipid-lowering drugs appear to be more at risk of acute memory loss but researchers suspect the link is down to detection bias

Whether or not statins are associated with acute memory impairment is unclear. There are plausible mechanistic explanations for such an effect, but new research has come to an alternative conclusion: detection bias, rather than a causal association.

Researchers harnessed a UK primary care database to compare 482,543 statin users with 482,543 matched nonusers of any lipid-lowering drugs (LLDs) and 26,484 matched users of nonstatin LLDs. Compared with nonusers of any LLD, both statin and nonstatin LLDs were strongly associated with incident acute memory loss diagnosed within the first 30 days after exposure.

“This finding suggests that either all LLDs cause acute memory loss or, perhaps more likely, that the association is the result of a detection bias,” the authors conclude in JAMA Internal Medicine[1] (online, 8 June 2015).

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2015.20068766

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  • Researchers suggest that detection bias may be the reason why statins have been associated with memory impairment. In the image, a blister pack of statins

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