The Disaster of Drug Companies Hiding Negative Studies



Imagine you’re a kid who gets your report card from school and you discover that you have only two A’s, but five F’s.  What would you do when mom asks you how your report card came out? 

If you’re like the pharmaceutical industry, you’d probably say something like, “If you’re ready for some A’s, mom, I’ve got ‘em for you!”

Researchers at the University of California in San Francisco recently reported that even if a drug has a pile of negative studies, doctors will likely never see those.  As long as only two positive studies exist, doctors who read medical journals may remain blissfully ignorant of the bad ones.  This is causing some critics, (and former pharmaceutical employees), to raise concerns that the drug companies are picking and choosing which data health care practitioners are exposed to.

You see, before the FDA approves a drug, the drug company has to show a minimum of only two studies that demonstrate its effectiveness.  It doesn’t have to show anyof the studies that prove its ineffectiveness, even if many exist.

So, if the only two studies the FDA sees are “A’s”, then the FDA could rightly, but ignorantly, deem the drug in question as being “safe and effective”, even if that same drug has a string of “F’s” behind it. 

What about your doctor?  Why should she be blamed for prescribing a drug to you when the only studies she ever sees are glowing? 

This is an example of why I’ve stopped going after doctors, per se, and have started criticizing the “medical establishment” instead.  Doctors are forced to dissect mountains of research, but typically, the only research they see either comes from drug reps, (with glowing studies), or medical journals, (that publish the glowing studies provided to them by the drug companies).  Believing that they have a full picture, they prescribe. 

(My only criticism of doctors comes when they, armed with their twopositive drug studies, and having never been forced to study nutritional therapies, rail against those of us in the nutrition industry for routinely using food and food-based supplements.  They’ll arrogantly hold up the Vioxx banner while attacking fish oil!)  

In the case of the kid with the overwhelmingly bad report card, the risk is that the misrepresentation masks a potential disaster for the kid’s future.

In the case of the patient being given a drug without the FDA or the prescribing physician being aware of negative studies, the misrepresentation by the drug companies also masks potential disaster. 

I wonder how many patient’s futures are in danger of disaster because of these obvious omissions from the drug companies?


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