Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Studies in Medical Journals Are Not Always Truthful

Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Studies in Medical Journals Are Not Always Truthful

Article excerpt

When you read about a clinical trial for a drug that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in a prestigious medical journal, you might assume that all of the pros and cons of the medication have been weighed and analyzed to the point where nothing is left to chance and all safety concerns have been put to rest. You might expect that the drug has gone through rigorous testing to eliminate any doubt about its ability to treat the specified conditions. You would, unfortunately, be wrong.

Drug studies published in even the most prestigious of medical journals cannot always be relied upon for' accuracy, even if the FDA has approved the drug in question. Because the FDA relies on third-party test results to approve drugs, opportunities exist for misleading and outright false information to slip through unnoticed. These third-party test results often come from for-profit companies that have significant financial ties to the drug manufacturers. Bankrolled private physicians also regularly receive monetary gifts for locating patients to take part in the tests.

In 2000, A Southern Calironia drugmaker sought millions of dollars in damages after the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) published a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association stating that the company's experimental drug for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) did not work as advertised. The drug company conceded that its initial assertion about the drug's abilities were false but claimed that a smaller study showed that the drug did have some beneficial results.

Dr. James Kahn, a UCSF AIDS clinician and principal investigator for the drug trial, claims that the drug company is trying to put its own perspective on bad information.

"The question we posed in the study is, 'Does it work?' and the answer is, 'No, it does not,' "he said. "There is no ambiguity here."

He also said that the data from the smaller study was analyzed but that no significant effect was found.

"Here is a company manipulating data to try to have a positive outcome," Dr. Kahn said.

He noted that this is a well-known tactic called "data dredging," which is prevalent in the industry.

In another case of money attempting to trump integrity, the manufacturer of a leading arthritis drug came under fire in 2002 for omitting critical data from its claims of superiority. …

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