If there’s a snake more slippery than a politician running for office, it’s a medical researcher on the Big Pharma payroll. The difference? When those researchers lie, patients die.
Researchers routinely leave out safety data, exaggerate drug benefits, and downplay side effects — and despite all that, their papers breeze through peer review and land in the pages of the world’s most prestigious journals. And then YOU get to read about them on the front page of The New York Times.
Well, one of those journals is blowing the whistle on the whole operation. BMJ has published no less than seven new papers exposing the shady world of drug research — and it’s every bit as ugly as what I’ve been telling you.
One team of research detectives managed to get hold of the unpublished data from the published trials of nine drugs. Of 41 later meta-analyses that relied on those studies, 38 would have had completely different outcomes if the missing data had been there all along.
And if you think the studies that get published are fatally flawed, you should see what DOESN’T get sent to the journals.
Researchers deliberately and routinely hide studies that don’t turn out as planned. And believe it or not, there’s almost no penalty for this. Heck, drug companies will REWARD you for it.
In all, nearly 80 percent of the studies concluded in 2009 disappeared completely, according to another BMJ study.
Even many of the studies YOU pay for never see the light of day: Less than half the research funded by the National Institutes of Health — studies that are often little more than gifts to the drug industry — are published within 30 months, and a third remain unpublished even at the three-year mark, according to BMJ.
The editors of BMJ are demanding big-time changes, including disciplinary action against researchers who hide their data.
All I can say is, don’t hold your breath.