EL PAÍS has published the article entitled "A study analyzes whether a million and a half Spaniards are taking a drug they do not need" which, as it appears, can generate anxiety and alarm among thousands of people. For many years, patients who have suffered a myocardial infarction are prescribed a beta-blocker drug following the guidelines of good clinical practice in force in Europe and America. The article explains the hypothesis that approximately one in four of these patients would not benefit from this drug and announces that a group of researchers will try to demonstrate it through a multicenter European clinical trial of several years.
There is no doubt that the hypothesis will be plausible and will be duly based on previous studies of experts in this field, in such a way that it justifies the implementation of a research of this magnitude, which can provide scientific knowledge that, if obtains the expected results, within a few years, it would benefit thousands of people.
However, it is necessary to put a serious objection to make public in advance the implementation of a scientific research of these characteristics as it may affect the general interest of the population, to the extent that generates uncertainty and distrust in each and every one of the hundreds of thousands of patients who take beta-blockers after a heart attack and of course, given the importance that has been given to the news, wrongly in all patients treated with beta-blockers. As it is a widely used and inexpensive medicine, it can cause the abandonment of necessary treatments as well as a large number of medical consultations of patients who go to their doctor with the article to ask if they should stop taking the beta-blocker.
The Code of Medical Deontology establishes in its article 64 that "the doctor has the duty to communicate in the first place to the professional means the discoveries that he has made or the conclusions derived from his studies". In this same direction he says that "it is contrary to deontology to make known in a premature or sensationalist way efficiency procedures not yet proven". It is not difficult to understand that the ultimate reason for this deontological precept is the defense of society in the absence of rigor of advertisements that can disorient patients. The wisdom of these deontological precepts is clear after reading the aforementioned article. The authors of this research should wait to publish their results in scientific journals after submitting to the criticism and validation of experts in the field, before making them public. Making premature public statements of this kind does not benefit patients, quite the contrary, it harms the National Health System and harms the credibility of the medical profession.
It would be desirable to publish as soon as possible a statement where the researchers who have made their hypotheses publicly clarify, without any doubt, that these are still unproven conjectures and that, at this moment, there is no reason to stop taking the beta-blocker, nor It is necessary to consult with your doctor about it.
Rogelio Altisent, doctor and vice president of the Bioethics Commission, and Juan José Rodríguez Sendín, doctor and president of the Central Commission of Deontology of the Collegial Medical Organization.