Corruption in the (Legal) Drug Trade

Marcia Angell reviews three books for The New York Review of Books and in the process creates an article that acts like an in-depth primer on the whole sordid business of “fraud, undisclosed payments, data burying and off-label promotion that pervades the pharmaceutical industry”.

Like David Balan on Overcoming Bias, I felt this was the most damning admission in the article, especially coming from a person who spent 20 years as editor of the New England Journal of Medicine:

The problems I’ve discussed are not limited to psychiatry, although they reach their most florid form there. Similar conflicts of interest and biases exist in virtually every field of medicine, particularly those that rely heavily on drugs or devices. It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.

This isn’t the first time Marcia Angell has written such a piece for the publication: she did so with the equally fascinating The Truth About the Drug Companies in 2004.

Update: In the latest instalment of its ‘…in 100 words’ series the (closed access) British Journal of Psychiatry has tackled this exact issue, if not in a slightly more concise form. To read the article visit Mind HacksPsychiatry and Big Pharma – in 100 Words.

via Mind Hacks