As we move through 2015 and into 2016, the medical industry continues to draw more attention for something that should be making national headlines everywhere. It’s the manipulation of science, and for decades it’s infiltrated medical literature that physicians rely on to treat patients.
A new study recently published in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology evaluated 185 meta-analyses on anti-depressant medication, and found that one third of them were written by pharmaceutical industry employees. This is significant because most professionals who rely on scientific research prefer reading a meta-analysis instead of a series of papers on one topic. Previously it was thought that pharmaceutical companies do not fund meta-analysis papers, but:
“We knew that the industry would fund studies to promote its products, but it’s very different to fund meta-analyses,” which “have traditionally been a bulwark of evidence-based medicine…It’s really amazing that there is such a massive influx of influence in this field.” – John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at Stanford University School of Medicine and co-author of the study (source)
Last month, an independent review found that the commonly prescribed antidepressant drug Paxil (paroxetine) is not safe for teenagers, despite the fact that a large amount of literature already previously suggested this. The 2001 drug trial that took place, funded by GlaxoSmithKline (also maker of the Gardasil Vaccine), found that these drugs were completely safe, and used that ‘science’ to market Paxil as safe for teenagers.
Ioannidis is also the author of the most widely accessed article in the history of the Public Library of Science (PLoS) entitled Why Most Published Research Findings Are False. In the report, he stated that most current published research findings are false.” And this was more than 10 years ago.
“If one looks at the manufacturer studies, they’re often not designed to detect adverse events….Obviously your not going to find what you’re not looking for…” – Lucija Tomljenovic, PhD, senior postdoctoral fellow in UBC’s Faculty of Medicine (source)
The new study found that almost 80 percent of meta-analyses had some sort of industry tie, either through sponsorship, which was defined as direct industry funding of the study, or conflicts of interest where any situation in which one or more authors were either industry employees or independent researchers receiving any type of industry support, these include speaking fees, research grants and things of that nature.
This is very troubling, because:
“There’s a certain pecking order of papers…Meta-analyses are at the top of the evidence pyramid…Industry influence is just massive. What’s really new is the level of attention people are now paying to it.” – Erick Turner, a professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University (source)
It can be hard to think about these things, to think that doctors are looking at literature saying these drugs help, when in fact a large majority of them are causing harm. It’s no surprise that thousands of people die every year from prescription drug use. Sure, we are only talking about antidepressants with this study, but the scope of drugs and different diseases they supposedly treat is quite large when it comes to this type of fraudulent activity.
“The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.” Dr. Richard Horton, the current editor-in-chief of the Lancet (source)
A drug may stop someones pain, it may lower ones blood pressure, but they are also causing a tremendous amount of harm in other areas that are not published and purposefully concealed. There are better ways to treat these diseases, what has the world of medicine become?
Scientific American reports that Meta-analyses by industry employees were 22 times less likely to have negative statements about a drug than those run by unaffiliated researchers. The rate of bias in the results is similar to a 2006 study examining industry impact on clinical trials of psychiatric medications, which found that industry-sponsored trials reported favorable outcomes 78 per cent of the time, compared with 48 percent in independently funded trials.
“The medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.” – (source)(source) Arnold Seymour Relman (1923-2014), Harvard Professor of Medicine and Former Editor-in-Chief of the New England Medical Journal
American psychologist Lisa Cosgrove and others investigated Financial Ties between the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders (DSM) panel members and the pharmaceutical industry. They found that, of the 170 DSM panel members 95 (56%) had one or more financial associations with companies in the pharmaceutical industry. One hundred percent of the members of the panels on ‘mood disorders’ and ‘schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders’ had financial ties to drug companies. The connections are especially strong in those diagnostic areas where drugs are the first line of treatment for mental disorders. In the next edition of the manual, it’s the same thing. (source)(source)
“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of the New England Journal of Medicine” Dr. Marcia Angell, a physician and long time Editor in Chief of the New England Medical Journal (NEMJ) (source)
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