Whistle Blown: 80% of Trusted Medical Reviews Are Tainted by Big Pharma Funders
For many years, systematic medical reviews have been considered a gold-standard source of information for many medical professionals. But in an eye-opening investigation, a distinguished doctor now warns that 80 percent of medical reviews are tainted by the commercial industries that fund them.
Here’s why this is a major problem:
When different studies on a medical topic produce contradictory findings, doctors rely on reviews, also called meta-analyses, to untangle the confusion and determine the facts. Tremendously important, the reviews derive their conclusions by combining results from a large body of research. They’re trying to make some sense out of a very convoluted scientific and medical literature,” Says Dr. John Ioannidis, a professor of medicine health research and policy at Stanford University.
In the 1990s when reviews became popular, they solved a problem. Now, however, they have created a much bigger dilemma their findings are largely deceptive and unreliable due to the influence of pharmaceutical funding. Instead of distilling data to uncover truth, as they were originally intended, they conceal the truth.
Reap the remarkable cardiovascular benefits of this exceptional cholesterol-balancing solution that can block cholesterol production in your liver, protect your arteries, prevent dangerous LDL oxidation and cut blood sugar levels that trigger inflammation.
Instead of Science, Many Reviews Are Simply Advertisements for Big Pharma’s Drugs
Ioannidis recently undertook an investigation of reviews to ascertain how extensively financial conflicts of interests affect the outcomes. His study, titled “The Mass Production of Redundant, Misleading, and Conflicted Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses,” was published in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. He chose to evaluate reviews involving antidepressant drugs.
After looking at 185 reviews published on the same drug within a seven-year period, Ioannidis found 80 percent were funded or had other conflicts of interest with the companies that manufactured them. In the conclusions authored by the drug industry, all of them except one claimed that antidepressants have no dangers. Any warnings about potential suicide risks were either buried deep within the studies or not mentioned at all. Consequently, the reviews mislead doctors who turn to them to get a quick read on how a drug works.
Ioannidis explains that drug companies use reviews to advance their interests: this industry isnt a disinterested party who is searching for evidence. “They can get the results or at least the interpretation that fits their needs. So you have the most powerful and most prestigious design in current medical evidence, and it can be easily manipulated as an advertisement, as a marketing tool,” he says.
The Funding of Studies Isnt Clearly Stated
Since reviews are skewed by industry funding, one might ask, Why dont doctors look for independent research? Because of the intricacies of medical jargon, it is often difficult to see who has funded a study. While the National Academy of Medicine has regulations for divulging funding sources, this information can be stately so subtly that is hard for the average doctor to identify. The authorship of a study is frequently hidden behind a scientist, institution or findings that arent an unbiased assessment of scientific data.
Science Has Taken a Turn Towards Darkness, Says Medical Journal Editor
Ioannidis isnt alone in his concerns. In 2015, the editor of the highly respected journal The Lancet spoke out about the massive fraud that pervades research. His comments portray the seriousness of the problem. Much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.
Studies Funded by Food and Beverage Industry Are Also Tainted
By no means is the corruption of medical science confined to the drug industry. Fraud is also rampant in studies funded by the food and beverage industry. In September, a bombshell expose revealed the sugar industrys huge role in shaping public policy when it hired scientists to shift the blame to fat 50 years ago.
Coming on the heels of this shocker, a new report finds Coca Cola and PepsiCo have sponsored nearly 100 health and medical groups, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the American Heart Association. The conflicts of interest that can result from giving large amounts of money to these organizations can lead to the silencing or suppression of information that puts the sponsors products in a critical light. It may also explain why diet soda is still listed by the ADA as one of the beverages permissible for diabetics to drink despite research linking it to obesity, a major risk factor of the disease.
Conflicts of interests have eroded the value of research, and industry money has diminished the reliability of recommendations issued from medical groups. Here is the bottom line: industry and science must be kept separate to prevent the practice of medicine from becoming increasingly based on falsehoods.
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.