Danger: Cherry-Picked Drug Studies!

June 11, 2013
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200428732-001Drug companies are deliberately keeping the public—and the medical community—in the dark about “unfavorable” clinical trials. Action Alert!

The RECORD trial (see our article in this issue) is just one example of how drug study data can be manipulated by pharmaceutical companies and the FDA. But it gets worse—even if a study finds a drug isn’t very safe or effective, it’s likely you and your doctor will never hear about it.

The problem—called publication bias—is widespread. About half of all drug trials aren’t made publicly available, and positive findings are twice as likely to be published as negative findings for the same drug. Since doctors can access only a small portion of the full scientific picture, they are led to believe that drugs are much safer or more effective than they actually are. This results in a huge gap between what the FDA knows about drugs and what prescribing doctors know.

For example, one independent study looked at all drug trials submitted to the FDA for twelve antidepressants. Thirty-eight of the trials showed positive results, while thirty-six showed negative results. Yet thirty-seven of the positive results were published in peer-reviewed journals, while only three of the negative studies were! Any doctor looking at the published studies would be led to believe that antidepressants were overwhelmingly effective. This is especially troubling considering the many negative effects of antidepressants—including suicidal behavior, and evidence of violent behavior against others.

Other manufacturers suppress drug trial information as well. A congressional investigation into the cholesterol drug Vytorin revealed that its manufacturer, Schering-Plough, deliberately hid results showing that the drug didn’t improve artery health, and continued to market Vytorin heavily. A trial on Multaq, a drug that treated irregular heartbeat, was stopped because more patients who received the drug were dying than those who received a placebo—yet this incredibly important study was not published until five years later!

Even if you don’t rely on patented medicines, this widespread deception costs you a great deal of money. Look, for instance, at Tamiflu, an antiviral influenza drug. The Cochrane Collaboration, which reviews drug trials, attempted to collect all data, both published and unpublished, from all Tamiflu trials. The results of the negative trials simply weren’t publicly available. When they started obtaining the trial write-ups via the Freedom of Information Act, the true effectiveness of the drug became murky. Tamiflu appears to be no more effective than aspirin—yet it has been stockpiled by governments around the world. The UK had contracts for over 50 million doses of Tamiflu—enough for 80% of the population—and the US has stockpiled over 37 million doses, costing taxpayers $1.5 billion.

In many cases, drug studies are retracted after they are published. Researchers found that nearly 75% of retracted drug studies were pulled because of scientific misconduct such as data falsification or fabrication, questionable veracity, unethical author conduct, or plagiarism. And such scientific fraud is on the rise: according to the most recent data, the number of scientific retractions is fifteen times higher than in 2001. Last fall, the Senate Finance Committee slammed medical device manufacturer Medtronic for ghostwriting entire studies to support its Infuse bone graft system, and for getting other authors to take credit for the research to give the appearance of impartiality.

When a new drug seeks FDA approval, FDA requires drug manufacturers to submit basic results of all the clinical trials they sponsor. Companies can sponsor as many trials as they like, many of which can have negative results—which the public almost never sees. But so long as two of the trials show that the drug is effective, the drug is usually approved! Even worse, this requirement only applies to drugs approved after 2007. Most drugs currently on the market were approved before 2007.

Action Alert! Write to your senators and representative and ask them for new legislation to require that all drug trials submitted to the FDA be publicly available—not only for new drugs, but for all drugs currently on the market. There is no reason a government agency should keep secret information that could affect the health of its citizens. Send your message today!

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5 Responses to “Danger: Cherry-Picked Drug Studies!”

  1. Emma Bragdon says:

    I tried to share this article on Facebook and received the following reply:

    You can’t post this because it has a blocked link.
    The content you’re trying to share includes a link that’s been blocked for being spammy or unsafe:

    http://shar.es/wpyav

    For more information, visit the Help Center.

    If you think you’re seeing this by mistake, please let us know.

       0 likes

    • ACurtis says:

      If you haven’t seen the big headlines about Facebook and the other 5 Internet companies who mine your information and spy on you by our government by keeping detailed records of everything you post on-line, then you haven’t been looking or listening to the recent news. Facebook has always been notorious for blocking anything and everything “they” deem offensive–or is offensive to their corporate sponsors or to their bottom line. If you post anything detrimental against Monsanto–it will be blocked. If you post anything against vaccines–it will be blocked. If you post anything linking vaccines to Autism–it will be blocked. If you post anything that will get the word out or educate someone else about an evil that has to do with food, health, Big Ag, Big Business, military, Big Pharma, the government, etc., and goes against what the corporate sponsors behind Facebook want you/the public to believe–it will be banned. Banning/not allowing things to be posted has been going on for a while now with Facebook and has gotten a lot worse lately. Lots of people have been protesting–and leaving Facebook–because of the censorship. It’s one of the reasons why I refuse to own a Facebook account. I don’t need my life files away and shelved, and I don’t need the government spying on me. If it’s a way for the public to interact and exchange ideas, then those things that directly affect our health should not be banned/disallowed.

         2 likes

      • Ted Wozniak says:

        That’s not been my experience; there are plenty of vaccine awareness groups (”anti-vax” if you like) on Facebook. We are a new one: Immunisation Alieends WA. What I have found is that scientists, many of whom probably work for drug companies or have blinkered vision, pepper these fb page entries with their own data and berate/intimidate contributors in areas that they feel they have strength of knowledge. If there’s a topic or evidence presented that they cannot refute, they don’t comment. and avoid the issue.

           0 likes

  2. anthony says:

    I hope your understand the vital importance of all studies being true and honest, and not letting businesses hide negative studies. This is especially important in food & drugs. Please make the businesses show every single study conducted to the public, to doctors, and to the FDA. We need oversight of these businesses to insure that they do not deliberately show more positive trials than negative ones. All trials, studies, etc are important and they all deserve to be seen by everyone. This is the best way to let people and their doctors decide for themselves if a drug is worth taking. It is important for food too, because the pollen from GMO wheat must’ve spread if there is unregulated unapproved GMO wheat being sold as food. I want to know the food & drugs my family needs to survive are safe. I do not believe the FDA is trustworthy as long as businesses are allowed to hide studies and trials from the government agencies, from the doctors, and from the public. I guess I’ll stick with my gluten free boycott of the wheat industry. And prescription drugs. And everything else. Just because my representatives won’t force businesses to properly display & label their products. Did I mention GMO labeling? Com’on, please? But mostly the FDA and the public desperately need access to the facts. Maybe you can change studies so theyre more transparent. Dont let businesses regulate themselves by only showing trials & studies they choose to.

       1 likes

  3. Victoria Bingham says:

    I was an intelligence analyst for the Defense Department. Since separating from the Army I have applied my skills to studying how we are physically impacted by prescription medications. A large portion of my time is spent examining vaccines.

    Late last night I went on Wikipedia – which advertises itself as a ‘Free Encyclopedia’ that anyone may edit. I opened their “Vaccines” entry and added a list of common vaccine ingredients as listed by a medical website.

    I also added the word ‘allegedly’ to the statement suggesting that vaccines were: ‘… a biological preparation that improves immunity to a particular disease’. Making it read, ‘Vaccines are a biological preparation that ‘allegedly’ improves immunity…”

    My additions were removed within 3 minutes by a ghost hand.
    Or I might suggest, a pharmaceutical corporation hireling.

    It appears there are people up at 10 pm at night watching this particular article (and I presume at all hours) to make certain that the skewed information on vaccines is all that ever appears on this alleged ‘encyclopedia’ that it may be presented to the public as if verified fact.

    After 2 attempts to insert a more balanced report, I was warned that my editing privileges had been ‘blocked’.

    That I was admonished by the ‘editors’ that ‘only a fair and balanced picture was permitted on Wikipedia’ was in my opinion the height of irony. And hypocrisy. As the vaccine article on Wikipedia is anything but balanced.

    People are being lied to, and they are at risk of injury. This needs to be stopped.Your suggestions are invited.

       7 likes

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