Lies, Damned Lies and Drug Trials

These kinds of studies make up most of the "evidence" that our doctors use to prescribe $230 billion worth of medications.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Drug company sponsored trials "often favors firm funding study," according to a new report in the Washington Post.

Magic wand.jpg

"In fact, when psychiatrist John Davis analyzed every publicly available trial funded by the pharmaceutical industry pitting five new antipsychotic drugs against one another, nine in 10 showed that the best drug was the one made by the company funding the study."

These kinds of studies make up most of the "evidence" that our doctors use to prescribe $230 billion worth of medications to American patients each year.

When the federal government recently compared a broader range of drugs in typical schizophrenia patients in a lengthy trial, the two medications that stood out were cheaper drugs not under patent.

I've found the same to be true in many other disease areas.

But guess which drug your doctor is most likely to prescribe? You got it; the new one with the big new trial and the pretty sales rep attached.

The problem is not that companies fabricate results, according to the Washington Post. "Researchers, in fact, want drugmakers to sponsor more studies, not fewer."

In fact, most of those "researchers" are standing like beggars outside the drug company gates, asking for money. When I took my first drug company job I wrote an introductory letter to the key movers and shakers in the medical profession. To my surprise forty percent responded. But there was a reason they wrote to me. They all wanted money.

The Washington Post article also tells us, "Ostensibly valid industry studies can be misleading in multiple ways," Davis said. "Some use too low a dose of a competitor's drug, while others choose statistical techniques that show their drug in the best light."

The problem is that your doctor believes in this data; after all, if he didn't, he wouldn't let you wait for an hour while he was getting "educated" by that young sales rep.

Do you know which drug rep your doctor is making small-talk to right now?


Popular in the Community


What's Hot