Prescription Drug Manufacturers Skew Data? Never!
Obviously, I’m kidding with the title of this post.
According to the New York Times: “AstraZeneca “buried” unfavorable studies of its $4.4 billion blockbuster psychiatric drug Seroquel, according to internal documents released Friday in a legal dispute between the company and lawyers for thousands of people who sued the company because they said the drug caused diabetes and weight gain.”
It seems as though the drug company knew about the adverse effects, but decided to hide these study results; complimenting a lead researcher for using “smoke and mirrors” to obscure the side effects.
Is this a unique occurrence? Apparently not.
In early 2008 researchers from the Oregon Health & Science University, the University of California, and Harvard published research in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) that indicates that studies on antidepressants that are funded by the pharmaceutical companies making these drugs much more likely to be published and see the light of day if they show that the antidepressant is effective. Most studies that show that these antidepressants are not effective are not published or are published with a commentary that undermines the true statistical findings. If you don’t want to read the research article from the NEJM linked above, take a look at this blog post at the Wall Street Journal.
It may go even farther. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that St. John’s Wort does not work in some cases of depression. This study was funded by Pfizer, the manufacturer of Zoloft. Are they skewing this data too? Well, the results are suspicious is several ways.
The Bottom Line:
Medical research and statistical analysis can (and is) manipulated to provide results that are in the best interests of the organization paying for the study (and maybe not in your best interests). At maliknd.com, we try to help you understand and prioritize the information that is available using expertise in medicine, physiology, and biochemistry with a dash of common sense. We hope we help.