Statins in a Distorted Mirror of Media


Purpose of Review

Statins have proven efficacy with a favorable safety profile yet, despite being widely affordable, remain profoundly underutilized. Statins have acquired a bad reputation, which is likely contributing to high rates of nonadherence and discontinuation. The degree to which negative media perceptions contribute to underutilization is unclear.

Recent Findings

The media has a key role in informing discussion on the public agenda but also on how issues are framed. In this context, the majority of studies evaluating news coverage suggest that the content on statins is predominantly negative and focused on potential harm. Studies utilizing quasi-experimental and interrupted time series design have shown periods of negative news stories on statins in multiple countries are associated with (a) less statin commencement in eligible patients, (b) high rates of discontinuation, and (c) poor long-term adherence.


This review highlights the deleterious impact of negative media coverage on statin utilization through misattribution of muscle complaints and the nocebo effect. Academia must work with the media to harmonize the public health messaging; however, individual physicians have a critical role in mitigating a harmful narrative of misinformation and actively discredit malinformation.

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Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Steven E. Nissen.

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Conflict of Interest

A.J.N. has no relationships to disclose.

R.P. has received consulting fees from Cerenis, Sanofi, and Amgen.

S.E.N.’s institution has received funding to perform clinical trials from Abbvie, AstraZeneca, Amgen, Cerenis, Eli Lilly, Esperion, Pfizer, The Medicines Company, Takeda, and Orexigen; he is involved in these clinical trials, but receives no personal remuneration for his participation, and consults for many pharmaceutical companies, but requires them to donate all honoraria or consulting fees directly to charity so that he receives neither income nor a tax deduction.

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Nelson, A.J., Puri, R. & Nissen, S.E. Statins in a Distorted Mirror of Media. Curr Atheroscler Rep 22, 37 (2020).

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  • Statins
  • Statin intolerance
  • Media
  • Misinformation