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With great power comes great responsibility

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To the Editor: In October 2013, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation television program Catalyst featured a two-part documentary series entitled Heart of the matter. The first episode questioned the role of dietary saturated fat in the development of heart disease, and the second debated the use of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors (statins) as a suitable treatment for hypercholesterolaemia.1

Justin Coleman, a general practitioner and senior lecturer in medicine at Griffith University, provided an excellent summary of the two episodes, highlighting the bias of several of the medical experts featured in the program.2 Coleman drew particular attention to their undisclosed conflicts of interest, describing one expert as having his own commercial line of alternative treatments for heart disease. The views portrayed in the program could not have been published in any reputable medical journal without adequate disclosure of the experts’ conflicts of interest. So why should this be allowed on television, when the audience is potentially so much larger and more impressionable?

Perhaps the worst of the views aired was from an expert who suggested that starting statins means weighing…