The untrustworthiness of research findings generated by scientists on pharmaceutical industry payroll…

The untrustworthiness of research findings generated by scientists on pharmaceutical industry payrolls is of crucial concern to all who ingest the medicines they produce. About a quarter of scientists working in medical research have some sort of financial relationship with industry, one critic reports. And, not surprisingly, there is a strong association between commercial sponsorship and the conclusions scientists draw from their findings. A prestigious voice of the medical profession, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), has acknowledged the problem: In collusion with money-seeking academic researchers, JAMA tells us, some pharmaceutical firms, large and small, have misrepresented and inflated scientific data to gain, first regulatory approval,andthen to influence physicians to prescribe their products to an unwitting public. JAMA, however, neglected to mention its own culpability. As editor of The Lancet, Richard Horton is competent to assess the current state of medical journalism. The process of publication, he charged, has been reduced to marketing dressed up as legitimate science. Medical journals have devolved into information-laundering operations for the pharmaceutical industry, thus becoming an obstacle to scientific truth-telling. Their posture as neutral arbiters is contradicted by their being owned by publishers and scientific societies that derive and demand huge earnings from advertising by drug companies. Their pronouncements cannot be trusted. Opinions are rented out to the highest bidder, Horton concluded. Knowledge is just one more commodity to be traded.

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