A LEADING Oxford University medical academic has accused GPs of misleading the public about cholesterol-reducing statins.

Prof Rory Collins, from Green Templeton College, said articles published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), were misleading.

The professor of medicine and epidemiology, and co-director of Oxford University’s clinical trial service unit, criticised papers written by John Abramson from Harvard Medical School and UK cardiologist Aseem Malhotra, which claimed statins caused harmful side-effects and did not reduce mortality.

Sir Rory said critics of statins were doing “a serious disservice to British and international medicine” as the drugs were “very well tolerated”.

He said: “I would think the papers on statins are far worse in terms of the harm they have done, and (the uncertainty) is probably killing more people than some irresponsible papers that have been published in journals, such as that on the MMR vaccine.”

On the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir Rory said: “Statins are given to people at elevated risk of heart attacks and strokes.

“If people at elevated risk stop taking their statins or don’t start taking their statins then they will have unnecessary heart attacks and strokes.”

Dr Fiona Godlee, BMJ editor, defended the publication of the papers and insisted that significant medical issues deserved to be debated openly.

Statins, which lower cholesterol in blood, are offered to about seven million people in the UK who have an increased risk of developing cardio- vascular disease.