Objective To identify redundant clinical trials evaluating statin treatment in patients with coronary artery disease from mainland China, and to estimate the number of extra major adverse cardiac events (MACEs) experienced by participants not treated with statins in those trials. Design Cross sectional study. Setting 2577 randomized clinical trials comparing statin treatment with placebo or no treatment in patients with coronary artery disease from mainland China, searched from bibliographic databases to December 2019. Participants 250 810 patients with any type of coronary artery disease who were enrolled in the 2577 randomized clinical trials. Main outcome measures Redundant clinical trials were defined as randomized clinical trials that initiated or continued recruiting after 2008 (ie, one year after statin treatment was strongly recommended by clinical practice guidelines). The primary outcome is the number of extra MACEs that were attributable to the deprivation of statins among patients in the control groups of redundant clinical trials-that is, the number of extra MACEs that could have been prevented if patients were given statins. Cumulative meta-analyses were also conducted to establish the time points when statins were shown to have a statistically significant effect on coronary artery disease. Results 2045 redundant clinical trials were identified published between 2008 and 2019, comprising 101 486 patients in the control groups not treated with statins for 24 638 person years. 3470 (95% confidence interval 3230 to 3619) extra MACEs were reported, including 559 (95% confidence interval 506 to 612) deaths, 973 (95% confidence interval 897 to 1052) patients with new or recurrent myocardial infarction, 161 (132 to 190) patients with stroke, 83 (58 to 105) patients requiring revascularization, 398 (352 to 448) patients with heart failure, 1197 (1110 to 1282) patients with recurrent or deteriorated angina pectoris, and 99 (95% confidence interval 69 to 129) unspecified MACEs. Conclusions Of more than 2000 redundant clinical trials on statins in patients with coronary artery disease identified from mainland China, an extra 3000 MACEs, including nearly 600 deaths, were experienced by participants not treated with statins in these trials. The scale of redundancy necessitates urgent reform to protect patients.
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