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Brenda Fulmer
Brenda Fulmer
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What You and Your Physician Don't Know Can Hurt You

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“When you prescribe drugs, you want to make sure you’re working with best data possible; you wouldn’t buy stock if you only knew a third of the truth about .”

Over the past several years, drug manufacturers have lauded themselves for their decision to finally come clean, and publish all of their research (whether good or bad for them) in peer reviewed journals in order to ensure that the medical and scientific community can help patients make decisions based upon full and accurate information. A recent New England Journal of Medicine expose, however, indicates that it is still business as usual, and drug companies are still manipulating the science by burying adverse data.

The editors of the NEJM conducted a review of the data provided to the Food & Drug Administration to test its theory that pharmaceuticals companies were continuing to submit only the most favorable research for peer review and publication. This investigation by the journal found, for instance, 74 trials relating to 12 different anti-depressant drugs in the FDA files, but only 31% of those trials were submitted by the drug companies for publication. Not surprisingly, nearly all of the studies that showed favorable results were published. Of the few studies that showed negative results that were actually published, many were written to convey favorable outcomes belied by the actual study data. Drugs used to treat depression earn drug companies over $21 billion each year, and, for many pharmaceutical giants, serve as a bedrock for their companiess . However, these significant financial interests in marketing their products and gaining a competitive edge, does not justify the concealment of critical information or the manipulation of the medical literature into yet another marketing tool rather than the open and honest forum for debate on which so many physicians and patients rely.

On a related noted, Congress has now started an into the actions of Schering-Plough and Merck with regard to the popular cholesterol drugs Vytorin and Zetia. Reports have emerged recently that the manufacturers of these drugs delayed publication of studies that questioned the effectiveness of these expensive medications.