A very good friend and co-worker/boss of mine (she also has an MSN degree) just gave me an article that I thought many of you would find interesting. She was in the medical field for a long time before becoming a director here, husband was a vascular surgeon. We share medical info regularly and she knows and understands both my physical foibles and my pharma fears. It's good to have a friend. One who listens. One who understands.
Anyway, here's the article, with no specific critique from me. I do NOT go along with the idea of giant, universal conspiracies, nor do I feel that ALL
doctors, MS Societies, and pharma companies are making a determined effort to keep US sick and keep THEM rich.
But...there is some widespread questionable ethics in the medical industry. This article is long, but informative - from The American Scholar
, Summer 2011. (I don't recall this particular one being posted here, although the topic has come up.)
Just like doctors declare the corporate affiliations and endorsements that might taint their opinions in journals, I'm declaring that I have a raging, inoperable, apparently incurable case of Medphobia
that often colors my own perspective.
Feel free to agree/disagree with the article below.
Title: "Flacking for Big Pharma"
"Drugmakers don't just compromise doctors; they also undermine top medical journals and skew medical research"
A quote from the article:
However, the industry’s seduction doesn’t end with the advertisements, junkets, and overpaid speaking engagements. Drugmakers have enticed or ensnared the very font of evidence-based medical knowledge—the peer-reviewed medical journal. Not content to turn these journals out to ply the streets for cash, the industry finds many ways to pervert the editorial content itself.
This perversion is such an open secret that in 2003 the British Medical Journal published a tongue-in-cheek essay instructing researchers in the fine art of “HARLOT—How to Achieve positive Results without actually Lying to Overcome the Truth.”
HARLOT’s advice to those who would serve Pharma includes, “test against placebo, test against minimal dose, test against maximal dose, and test in very small groups.” This means that companies sometimes seek to make bad drugs look good by:
• Comparing their drug to a placebo. A placebo, such as a sham or “sugar” pill, has no active ingredient, and, although placebos may evoke some poorly understood medical benefits, called the “placebo effect,” they are weak: medications tend to outperform placebos. Placebo studies are not ethical when a treatment already exists for a disorder, because it means that some in the study go untreated. However, if you care only that your new drug shines in print, testing against placebo is the way to go.
• Comparing their drug to a competitor’s medication in the wrong strength. Too low a dose makes the rival drug look ineffective. Too high a dose tends to elicit worrisome side effects.
• Pairing their drug with one that is known to work well. This can hide the fact that a tested medication is weak or ineffective.
• Truncating a trial. Drugmakers sometimes end a clinical trial when they have reason to believe that it is about to reveal widespread side effects or a lack of effectiveness—or when they see other clues that the trial is going south.
• Testing in very small groups. Drug-funded researchers also conduct trials that are too small to show differences between competitor drugs. Or they use multiple endpoints, then selectively publish only those that give favorable results, or they “cherry-pick” positive-sounding results from multicenter trials.