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Bias seen in U.S. drug study reporting

It has been known for years among professionals that drug studies are often biased and questionable for several reasons.

Drug studies are often sponsored by the pharmaceutical companies that have a financial interest in findings that their drugs work and have few side effects. Therefore they have a huge bias and a conflict of interest.

Drug companies have been known to pay some prestigeful academic physician or other scientist to put their names on ghost written articles. There are all kinds of shennanigans like sending physicians to pharmaceutical company sponsored "conferences" in resort areas where they have these bogus "researchers" spout the company line about their drug to entice physicians to prescribe it, etc.

In Wednesday, December 15, 2004 issue of JAMA, there is a report of a meta-analysis of drug studies. Here is further evidence of the scamming that pharmaceutical companies perpetrate.

"A review of 48 U.S. drug studies in the American Journal of Medicine Wednesday showed apparent bias in those sponsored by pharmaceutical companies.

Of the 48, every one of the 30 sponsored papers reported favorable results, while only 12 of the 18 not supported by a pharmaceutical company were positive.

The authors propose three principles for medical societies to maintain the integrity of presentations about commercial products -- a requirement for full disclosure of financial support, an explicit policy of accepting negative studies as well as positive studies, and a series of lectures, discussions and debates at the annual meetings to help everyone recognize conflicts of interest and scientific bias."

Unfortunately, as medicine has become increasingly a "business" in the last 30 years instead of a human service, patients have to become increasingly knowledgeable about the treatments being offered them so they can be responsible and informed consumers. Most patients don't have the medical training to sort through the information, but increasingly, with the internet for example, it has become easier to get information if patients are willing to invest the time and energy. At the very least ask questions and more questions and more questions until you feel comfortable with the treatments being proposed.

Link: MedlinePlus: Bias seen in U.S. drug study reporting.


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