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Misinformation about STAREE

In August 2017, incorrect claims were made via national radio and social media that STAREE is funded by pharmaceutical companies – ‘big pharma’. The same source also warned that elderly people should not be taking statins and that participating in STAREE is a health risk.

These claims are false.

100% of STAREE’s funding is from the Federal Government. We are proud of our independence from industry funding as independence builds trust with the community and reduces bias – pressure on researchers to produce results that please the companies that fund them.

Government funding is in the form of a competitive grant distributed by the National Health and Medical Research Council. To be awarded this funding, a trial must meet the highest safety and ethics guidelines, and it must demonstrate that study findings could be of great value to society.

STAREE has met these standards.

The risks and benefits of statins in the healthy elderly have never been formally measured in a large, scientifically rigorous trial. Other trials which have been conducted have been in a younger age demographic, and most have been conducted in those who have already had a heart attack. As such, STAREE is a world first and will provide substantial evidence about the use of statins in the elderly.

The on-boarding process to join STAREE requires participants to undergo a health check with their GP. Anyone at risk from taking a statin is identified through this and excluded from the study.

The individual also claimed that STAREE is taking advantage of elderly Australians who are likely to feel pressured into participating. STAREE participants can only join the trial with the approval of their GP. This ensures that people capable of making free and informed consent decisions join the study.

Many older Australians are physically healthy, mentally alert and maintain their capacity to make sound decisions. The decision to contribute to medical research often provides them with personal pride and a sense of purpose.

The program also claimed that experiments should be done on animals and not people. There are limitations to equating an animal model to a human as they are used as proof of concept. The most robust and reliable evidence is garnered from a health intervention used in a randomised controlled trial.

We are extremely concerned about false claims such as these because they deter older Australians from participating in medical research. Medical research in this country relies upon these selfless volunteers who donate their time and energy to help find cures and treatments for the next generation.

If you hear such claims and are concerned by them, we urge you to contact our trial team on 1800 770 664 and discuss these concerns with your GP.