Although Big Tobacco is creating a product that is totally bad for us, while $600-billion pharmaceutical industry is selling hope, they tend to use the same tactics--especially when it comes to lies.
Doctors don't like to admit it, but often they don't have any idea whether the drug they're prescribing will work or not because the drug companies keep this information secret.
The Economist quotes researcher Ben Goldacre as saying, "Medicine is broken (and) the people you should have been able to trust to fix [its] problems have failed you."
There is routine corruption of what is supposed to be an objective scientific process designed to assess whether new drugs work, whether they are better than drugs already on the market and whether their side effects are a price worth paying for any benefits they might convey. The result is that doctors, and the patients they treat, are left in needless ignorance.
The Economist writes: "Pharmaceutical companies bury clinical trials which show bad results for a drug and publish only those that show a benefit. The trials are often run on small numbers of unrepresentative patients, and the statistical analyses are massaged to give as rosy a picture as possible. Entire clinical trials are run not as trials at all, but as under-the-counter advertising campaigns designed to persuade doctors to prescribe a company's drug.
"Drug regulators, who do get access to some of the hidden results, often guard them jealously, even from academic researchers, seeming to serve the interests of the firms whose products they are supposed to police. Medical journals frequently fail to perform basic checks on the papers they print, so all sorts of sharp practice goes uncorrected. Many published studies are not written by the academics whose names they bear, but by commercial ghostwriters paid by drug firms. Doctors are bombarded with advertising encouraging them to prescribe certain drugs.
"Statins, for instance, lower the risk of heart attacks, and are prescribed to millions of adults all over the world. But there are several different sorts of statin. Because there is little commercial advantage to be gained by comparing the efficacy of the different varieties, no studies have done so in a useful way.
"(Without) guidance, doctors must therefore prescribe specific statins on the basis of little more than hunches or personal prejudice. If one drug is even a shade more effective than its competitors, then thousands of people prescribed the inferior ones are dying needlessly every year for want of a bit of simple research. Worse, the bias and distortions that brought it about are repeated across the entire medical industry."
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