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Drug Company Disguised Advertising As Science

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the maximize-shareholder-value dept.

Medicine 172

ananyo writes "A former pharmaceutical company employee has blown the whistle on drug promotion disguised as science. Drug companies occasionally conduct post-marketing studies to collect data on the safety and efficacy of drugs in the real world, after they've been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 'However,' writes the anonymous author in an editorial in the British Medical Journal (subscription required), 'some of the [post-marketing] studies I worked on were not designed to determine the overall risk:benefit balance of the drug in the general population. They were designed to support and disseminate a marketing message.' According to the whistleblower, the results of these studies were often dubious. 'We occasionally resorted to "playing" with the data that had originally failed to show the expected result,' he says. 'This was done by altering the statistical method until any statistical significance was found.' He adds that the company sometimes omitted negative results and played down harmful side effects. Nature says it was unable to work out who the writer was but they likely worked on diabetes and the studies criticized were from the Denmark-based pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk."

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zzzz (4, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310611)

Perhaps if big Pharma was actually honest that would merit a story.

SOP.

Re:zzzz (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310867)

The vast majority of the time it is.

You have been brainwashed by anti medical science FUD.

Re:zzzz (1)

tunapez (1161697) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311039)

To do nothing for the gomers was to do something, and the more conscientiously I did nothing the better they got.

â Samuel Shem

Re:zzzz (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311233)

and? Frr people who continually show up in ER with vaguen non deterministic symptoms' its good advice. But what's it have to do with the conversation?
Not to mention the book is incredibly dated.

Re:zzzz (4, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311447)

The vast majority of the time it is.

You have been brainwashed by anti medical science FUD.

Not when it comes to Big Pharma. They are impressively consistent. About the only thing they've done of late is to get more subtle.

Even with all of the rules and regulations foisted on them to be more ethical, they will skirt the law and ethics are hard as they can. 'Unrestricted' educational grants to seminars who have speakers who get money from the very same company who inevitably have a positive spin for the drug or device the company is marketing. Yes, the spins are getting more nuanced - in the past they were just openly blatant about it, now they will discuss some positive data, a dribble of controversy and then come up with a positive recommendation.

And don't even get me started on Direct-to-Consumer Advertising.......

Re:zzzz (5, Insightful)

Stem_Cell_Brad (1847248) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311947)

I do not wish to defend the whole Division in Big Pharma companies set up to perpetuate bullshit. This is harmful and infuriating. But, do not throw out the baby with the bathwater. You know what actually makes Big Pharma A LOT of money - drugs that work. Anyone who has taken an antibiotic or Viagra will probably agree. So, the lying bullshit is not the only thing Big Pharma does. Please do not simply condemn medical research and call it all a fraud because of the influence of business/advertising on pharmaceutical companies.

Re:zzzz (4, Insightful)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | more than 2 years ago | (#40312539)

The advertising/business influence are the parts of big pharma that are so corrupt. Those are the wings that claim they need so much money for R&D but then consistently have advertising budgets and executive compensation that is 2-3x their R&D Budgets. They are also the wings that fight so hard to keep a profitable drugs like viagra or prilosec out of the hands of generic manufacturers so they can be affordable when people really need them. They are also the wings that fight to have their congress critters go after foreign manufacturers for trying to make affordable AIDS drugs for the people that really need it and really can't pay for it. Yes, big pharma does do some good, but it's not like their altruistic in their motives. The scientists that actually do the research might be, but not the parts of the company that make it big pharma to begin with.

Re:zzzz (3, Interesting)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#40312167)

Direct to consumer advertising isn't all bad. Especially since some doctors are wooed so easily. At least for the critical-thinking consumer, it's been a plus. There's an awareness that there's never been before. Knowing that there is a possible chemical fix to a problem, knowing the side-effects even if they are stated very quickly, and knowing the competition. A doctor who's been compromised by unethical marketing is not going to tell you all the risks, side effects, or even generic alternatives. Having foreknowledge of common pharmaceuticals has helped me greatly in doing my own basic research before I take medicine for anything.

Re:zzzz (4, Insightful)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311229)

It is worth a story for the following reasons: 1. Our attention span is incredibly short. 2. No one would claim a serial killer's latest crime wasn't a story for the mere reason it was expected. 3. Our attention span is incredibly short.

Re:zzzz (2)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311291)

huh? I wasn't paying attention.

Re:zzzz (3, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311465)

tl;dr

Re:zzzz (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311533)

Tl;dr

Re:zzzz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40311725)

4. We have Alzheimer's.

5. How are you doing Billy?!

Re:zzzz (1)

oldwarrior (463580) | more than 2 years ago | (#40312131)

but we do not have attention problems, because Big Pharma and Big Education have coordinated to try to stamp out that rampant disorder - GUWB (Growing Up While Boy)

Sorry for whoring your top-post for original text (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40311977)

Post-marketing observational studies: my experience in the drug industry
BMJ 2012; 344 doi: 10.1136/bmj.e3990 (Published 12 June 2012)
Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e3990
Epidemiologic studies Epidemiology
Article
Related content
Article metrics
I was an employee of a major drug company for more than seven years. During most of that time I was part of the medical department, which was responsible for designing, conducting, and publishing clinical research. I was mainly involved in post-marketing observational studies. These studies are challenging because of their observational nature, very different from the controlled settings of phase II and III clinical trials. In theory, post-marketing studies are primarily used to answer an important clinical question: “Is this drug effective and safe in a non-controlled, real life setting?” However, some of the studies I worked on were not designed to determine the overall risk:benefit balance of the drug in the general population. They were designed to support and disseminate a marketing message.

Whether it was to highlight a questionable advantage over a “me-too” competitor drug or to increase disease awareness among the medical community (particularly in so called invented diseases) and in turn increase product penetration in the market, the truth is that these studies had more marketing than science behind them.

Since marketing claims needed to be backed-up scientifically, we occasionally resorted to “playing” with the data that had originally failed to show the expected result. This was done by altering the statistical method until any statistical significance was found. Such a result might not have supported the marketing claim, but it was always worth giving it a go to see what results you could produce. And it was possible because the protocols of post-marketing studies were lax, and it was not a requirement to specify any statistical methodology in detail. On the other hand, the studies were hypothesis testing (such as cohort studies, case-control studies) rather than hypothesis generating (such as case reports or adverse events reports), so playing with the data felt uncomfortable.

Other practices to ensure the marketing message was clear in the final publication included omission of negative results, usually in secondary outcome measures that had not been specified in the protocol, or inflating the importance of secondary outcome measures if they were positive when the primary measure was not.

Although the medical department developed the publication plans, designed the study, performed the statistical analysis, and wrote the final paper (which when published was passed on to marketing and sales to be used as marketing material), the marketing team responsible for that product were directly involved in all stages. They also closely supervised the content of other educational “scientific” materials produced in the medical department and intended for potential prescribers. Instructions from marketing to the medical staff involved were clear: to ensure that the benefits of the drug were emphasised and the disadvantages were minimised where possible.

Carrying out large post-marketing studies was also a great opportunity to increase product name recognition by recruiting lots of patients via prescribers. A small group of these investigators would also act as so called key opinion leaders and would become part of the company’s advisory boards. These were clinicians, usually experts in the subject of study, and key prescribers and influencers. Every big international observational study had a large advisory board. This was critical since the success of a newly launched drug in the market would depend on how many key opinion leaders were part of the study. Not only would they add credibility to the results, but they would also be key in influencing decision makers and other prescribers. In regional studies with thousands of patients, the study’s advisory board was formed by at least one key opinion leader from each country in that region, ensuring that areas important in terms of possible sales were covered. The contributions of the key opinion leaders to the study were always positive, but in my experience more directed towards designing new studies to answer their specific clinical questions rather than critically appraising our results and conclusions. In general, the relationship was amicable. We took them to the best hotels and restaurants during our advisory board meetings, and they appeared as authors in our research. Later, they would act as the company’s “ambassadors,” giving conferences, teaching doctors, or talking to the media about the benefits of the drug.

A drug is profitable for as long as its patent lasts. The patent lasts for 20 years, and drugs are patented as soon as they show some pharmacological activity as chemical compounds. Of those 20 years, 12 are spent on drug discovery, preclinical and clinical research, and receiving approval by the relevant regulatory agency. That leaves eight years to recover the millions of dollars invested. These are average numbers. Sometimes one of the stages is delayed, leaving less “patent time” available to make a profit. So the pressure is on.

However, this does not justify drug companies engaging in questionable practices. Allowing companies to focus more time and efforts on drug development, or increasing transparency by encouraging industry authors to disclose the fact that the research has commercial objectives (as long as these are balanced with scientific value) would definitely help to develop better drugs for patients. And by better, I mean innovative, more effective, and safer drugs, not necessarily just more profitable.

Notes
Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e3990

Footnotes
doi:10.1136/bmj.e3974
, doi:10.1136/bmj.e3987
Competing interests: All authors have completed the Unified Competing Interest form at www.icmje.org/coi_disclosure.pdf (available on request from the corresponding author) and declare: no support from any organisation for the submitted work; no financial relationships with any organisations that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous three years, no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.

Big Surprise (5, Insightful)

redrew89 (2636451) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310665)

Pharmacutical companies, especially in the US, are constantly making dubious claims, and marketing products that, occasionally, provide more suffering in the form of side-effects, than the disease they are designed to treat. It's generally accepted that these companies are genuinely apathetic to the medical issues, and simply do anything they can to maximize profit. Next, you'll be telling me that the firearms industry deliberately pressures governments into military action.

Re:Big Surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40310701)

The company is from Denmark.

Re:Big Surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40310895)

Working with the US Food and Drug Administration.

Re:Big Surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40312061)

To treat the symptoms and not the actual cause.

Re:Big Surprise (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40311273)

The Pharmaceutical companies don't strap you into a seat and toss pills down your throat all will-nilly. Downplayed or not, all the side effects are listed and it's up to you, your doctor, and your pharmacist to decide if the side effects are worth the benefits.

Of course, personal responsibility for your own well being died ages ago so DOWN WITH THE EVIL CORPORATIONS WHO I LET MANIPULATE ME!!!

Re:Big Surprise (4, Informative)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311671)

The Pharmaceutical companies don't strap you into a seat and toss pills down your throat all will-nilly.

On the contrary, I think this is exactly what they did by pushing the PREP and MSEHPA acts.
Whether the politicians do it "for the greater good" or not doesn't change that it's the Pharmaceutical companies that sponsor it, because enforced medication whether needed or not means more money for them.

Re:Big Surprise (0, Troll)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311281)

"provide more suffering in the form of side-effects, than the disease they are designed to treat"
So? When it's done, and the disease is gone is far better then death.
It hurt more to have an arm reset then to leave it deformed. Should it be left deformed?

"It's generally accepted that these companies are genuinely apathetic to the medical issues"
Only among the stupid, and ignorant. People who actually look into them and use rational thinking know otherwise.

Re:Big Surprise (5, Informative)

ldobehardcore (1738858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311469)

Just look at the latest generation of psoriasis drugs. Their lists of severe side effects is a mile long, and to me seem just as bad or possibly even worse than the disease they treat. Do you want your whole immune system knocked out to treat mild to moderate psoriasis. I enjoy not having to constantly worry about pneumonia TB and systemic fungal infections.

Re:Big Surprise (2)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#40312435)

Or like Ambien - a sleep aid - can lead to sleep-driving.

Re:Big Surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40312095)

But a dislocated arm does not have the side effect of death, some of these new drugs come with a warning of death as a side effect.

In order to save us a lot of time... (1)

publiclurker (952615) | more than 2 years ago | (#40312487)

Why don't you tell us in advance which pharmacy company owns you.

Re:Big Surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40312525)

did you know that people are actually paid to post dis-information in comments sections and forums all over the web?

Re:Big Surprise (2)

Cosgrach (1737088) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311377)

I have to agree on this. It has been my experience that they really don't give two shits about actually curing anything - a great many (if not most) of the drugs that are made simply treat they symptoms and not the root cause. Just why is this? PROFIT! Actually curing anything leads to lower profits in the future. They must keep the investors happy you know.

The best way to good health is to eat good foods in reasonable portions, exercise, and keep the weight off. Limiting exposure to harmful chemicals (in food and your everyday life) also goes a long way in reducing the risk of cancer type ailments.

Re:Big Surprise (2)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#40312499)

Aside from antibiotics and anti viral medications (which scare the shit out of me, honestly), all drugs treat only symptoms. You ether keep taking them until you get better due to some other natural process, or you keep taking them for the rest of your life, unless you want your symptoms to return. And what's worse, they pretty much all have harmful side-effects. I cringe when I see older people taking handfuls of drugs three times a day. How could all that possibly be necessary? Wouldn't it be better just to suffer through whatever symptoms they have?

Re:Big Surprise (3, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311621)

Just because it's the status quo doesn't make it right.

Apathy is what allows this crap to continue.

Everyone does this (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40310703)

This was done by altering the statistical method until any statistical significance was found

I'm convinced that backing into a conclusion by playing with analysis is the raison d'être of most white collar work in the Western world. Using 'risk' models to rationalize market positions enables arbitrary use of capital by so-called banks. Economic and climate analysis pretty much boil down to teasing out curves that fit the preconceived policies of various statists.

Not surprising that multi-billion dollar drug companies.leverage the same tools. Monkey see monkey do.

Re:Everyone does this (3, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310811)

George Carlin said it best:

Cuz ya do know folks, Ya do know, livng in this country you know, that every time you're exposed to advertising you realize once again that America's leading industry, America's most profitable business is still the manufacturing, packaging, distribution, and marketing of BULLSHIT. High quality, Grade A, Prime cut, Pure American BULLSHIT.

And the sad part is, Most people seem indoctorinated to believe that bullshit only comes from certain places, certain sources. Advertising, politics, salesmen, not true. Bullshit is everywhere, bullshit is rampant. Parents are full of shit, teachers are full of shit, clergymen are full of shit, and law enforcment people are full of shit, this entire country is completely full of shit, and always has been, from the Declaration of Independance, to the Constitution, to the Star Spangled Banner, it's really nothing more than one BIG steaming pile of red white and blue all Americian BULLSHIT.

Re:Everyone does this (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40311137)

Why do supposed smart or nerds on this site keep quoting comedians? They seem to love this guy and those Penn and Loser types, why? They are entertainers not smart people, sorry, your brains are showing again slash dumb.

I cry evil profits on this story, wah wah wah.

Re:Everyone does this (4, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311315)

Because the only healthy response to our world right now is to laugh at it.

Re:Everyone does this (-1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311665)

If you can laugh at the state of the world, you're either one sick son of a bitch, or you're in complete denial.

Re:Everyone does this (1)

Cosgrach (1737088) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311737)

I laugh at the state of the world on a daily basis. And yes, I am one sick bastard.

Re:Everyone does this (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40312153)

I am one sick bastard.

Big Pharma probably has a drug for you.

Re:Everyone does this (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#40312559)

It's all so ridiculous though! Sometimes you just need to step back and take a look at it all and laugh at the absurdity. If you take it too seriously, how can you go on living?

Re:Everyone does this (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311647)

And this is all probably true for his time. But since then, the manufacturing has been outsourced to Canada since they have more cows.

Re:Everyone does this (3, Insightful)

boristdog (133725) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310823)

This was done by altering the statistical method until any statistical significance was found

I'm convinced that backing into a conclusion by playing with analysis is the raison d'être of most white collar work in the Western world.

I thought that's how we were taught to do labs back in all my science classes.

Re:Everyone does this (0)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#40312623)

In school you are taught to work towards an "A" even if you are really a "C" student. You are taught to get the right result in your lab or on your test, even if you botched the lab, and didn't learn anything in the class. The same mentality is naturally drawn over to the "real" world. When you write a report, it doesn't really matter what you actually concluded, you have to issue a conclusion that toes the party line and represents you and your company in the best light possible, and you have to tailor the report to that conclusion. If you made a mistake, you spin it into a feature. If your metal is bad, you issue a report explaining why it's actually ok. Truth is the antithesis of society.

I work in drug marketing (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40310713)

I work in drug marketing, (software dev at an ad agency) and all I can say is that my pot dealer is more ethical than a typical multinational drug company.

If it's not illegal, they will do it. If you don't want drug companies to do something, make it illegal. Libertarian nonsense won't fix this problem any more than it helps deal with other problems.

Drug companies have lawyers, and always seek to obey the law (and sometimes fail). They don't care about ethics. They care about the law, and perception. Their purpose is to maximize shareholder value, not do good for the world.

As for me... yes I sold out.. no I don't care. It's a cold world.

Let's Look at Those Two Relationships (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311205)

I work in drug marketing, (software dev at an ad agency) and all I can say is that my pot dealer is more ethical than a typical multinational drug company.

Well let's take a look at the relationships you propose here. Your drug dealer is a single entity, probably not making a ton of money. I mean, he's making money but he in turn pays it to the supplier and then X middle men back to whoever is growing it. It's probably not as much as a software developer. Even if he is making a lot of money, he depends on you to not rat him out to the cops. So if he starts busting your balls or raising prices and you feel like he's unfair you can just turn him over to the cops and face little or no repercussions. So he will probably be friendly, courteous and -- assuming he doesn't mix business with pleasure -- have his shit together enough to accommodate your emergency needs. He/She is the interface to your whole pot experience and has reason to make sure personally that you are a very happy camper.

Let's look at a multinational drug company. They have infinite resources, they have infinite lawyers, they will sue you on a whim, they will sue you if voice concern. They are faceless, they never meet you, they actually abuse a broken system to interface with you (HMOs and prescriptions). They operate "within the law" (like you said if it isn't illegal they'll do it) so you have no leverage on them if your relationship goes sour. In fact, if your relationship goes sour your goose is pretty much cooked. Oh, and if you manage to threaten their infinite capital, they have ways of generating more of it. When they fight amongst themselves, people die. That's how powerful they are ... when someone wants to license a patented drug in India and Pfizer wants $200 per dosage and that means that Indian patients can't get the super expensive research compounds, people die. And when an Indian firm just makes a generic version of it, they've basically painted a target on their back for international IP laws. When something does go wrong that they are indeed liable for, you are clumped into a class action lawsuit with no voice ... you have the option to opt out of the class action lawsuit (which I think are opt in by default) but to do so would mean going toe to toe with your personal resources and lawyers against their infinite sums of both. Tell me, what incentive do they have to even give a shit about you? And you, Anonymous Coward, you are doubly F'd in the A because you work for one, so that's just more leverage they hold over your head.

And I'm supposed to be surprised that your pot dealer is more ethical and humane than big pharma? He'd have to develop some pretty complicated drugs and then go on a rampage of carnage and bloodshed and looting to come close.

As for me... yes I sold out.. no I don't care. It's a cold world.

Listen, from various points of view, everyone has sold out. You live in a capitalistic society and in your employment respect you cannot hold yourself to higher standards than that unless you're okay with living on the street. And nobody should blame you for putting good food in your mouth and living in the best place you can afford. Capitalism's the name of the game and if you don't play it right, you get screwed over. So just suck it up and embrace it, I have. Might make us hypocrites but it doesn't invalidate our logic.

Re:Let's Look at Those Two Relationships (3, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311677)

You can't play the game unless you're rich enough to begin with to buy politicians off.

Because the moment you step on the field you are a target and the elite have the referees on their own payroll.

Re:I work in drug marketing (1)

jxander (2605655) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311351)

Libertarian nonsense might not outright fix the issue, but if your pot dealer could open a shop next to the local grocery store, it might tip the scales toward the more ethical.

Re:I work in drug marketing (2)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311401)

I really appreciate your comment, but I cringe at the "maximize shareholder value" meme.

The top 1% of the country owns WAY more than 50% of the stocks. The biggest shareholders are the CEO/executive class themselves. When you say "maximize shareholder value" it implies that they are doing it for "everyone" (or the 401k, normal investor, index fund investor) and I think the it's misleading. At the end of the day they are doing it for themselves and its just another selfish motive.

We also treat the "shareholder value" meme as if it was handed down by Moses on stone tablets, too. It's a legal construct and is based on legal precedence. If we actually had the political will we could add requirements to corporate charters that gave them more responsibility. At one point in the past (pre railroad barons) they were actually there!

Proof (2)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311497)

Look no farther than the dearth of actual, fucking, take once and done *CURES*. Oh, but plenty of life-long maintenance drugs for profit lock-in, yessiree bob.

Re:I work in drug marketing (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311639)

They don't care about laws they can get away with breaking, and I think it's blatant false advertizing to manipulate after market studies.

Summary (0)

Translation Error (1176675) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310719)

A former pharmaceutical company employee has .

Huh?

Re:Summary (1, Funny)

Translation Error (1176675) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310745)

Whoops. Never mind. For some strange, unknown reason, my browser seems to have blocked a link that contained the word 'advertising' in the URL.

Re:Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40311485)

I had to deal with an idiot user a couple of years ago that was angry because our web page wasn't working. The problem: their dumb blocking software was set up so that it would block any page that had the letter combination "cum" in the title, no matter whether it came in the middle of the word or not. Great work there, Joe...

Re:Summary (1)

satanclause (2626589) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311745)

I had a similar problem with a filtered address input box a few years ago. No one from the town of Scunthorpe (in the NE of England) could sign-up for the site!

Get some perspective, Slashdot! (4, Funny)

TimHunter (174406) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310725)

So, some international drug companies are lying about science just to make a profit while callously risking millions of people's heath as a consequence? What's that to me?

Do you really expect me get upset about this when Apple's new MacBook Pro is expensive and impossible to repair? It's APPLE, for cryin' out loud.

I think /. needs to get some perspective!

Re:Get some perspective, Slashdot! (1)

tom17 (659054) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310975)

And some fairy cake!

Even Better! (1)

ryzvonusef (1151717) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311921)

It's APPLE, for cryin' out loud

Apples keep doctors and their evil medicine away!

Ponder about Apple, and your medical problems will solve themselves! /s

This is pretty much known anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40310743)

Although it's nice to have this backing it up. I'm a med student and 10% of our course is dedicated to analysis of clinical trials, and the statistical tricks drug reps use to dupe you into prescribing their new drugs.

Re:This is pretty much known anyway (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311557)

Although it's nice to have this backing it up. I'm a med student and 10% of our course is dedicated to analysis of clinical trials, and the statistical tricks drug reps use to dupe you into prescribing their new drugs.

Protip: Learn your statistics well (and your English gooder). If you have a passably advanced knowledge you can 1) understand the lies and damned lies 2) have lots of fun twisting the drug rep at conferences and meetings. Always fine quality entertainment after a night up on call.....

Inflammatory (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40310759)

Trust Science.

So (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40310785)

This was done by altering the statistical method until any statistical significance was found.

Just like tree ring proxies!

This is why I never get a checkup (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40310837)

Because if I did, my doctor would run the tests and tell me, you've got whatchamacolis and hyperwheesis, I'm dialing up for you drugs X, Y, and Z. Don't worry, your plan should cover almost all of it.

Then I'll go home and google and doc would be the featured speaker at Big Pharma's progress against hyperwhesis conference.

Re:This is why I never get a checkup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40310943)

Drugs are bad, m'kay.

What you really need is some natural herbal blend of vapor for that hyperwheezis, consult your local Bushdoctor.

in other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40310851)

despite knowing that pharmaceuticals companies falsify the "benifits" of their "medicine" by putting it in studies with 'active' placebos. 'active' placebos are not placebos, are produced by the pharmafia with no regulation, and administered to their sample set these 'placebos' make them sicker so their pills theyre testing against look like they're benificial.
despite 90% of prescriptions for depression being unecessary.
Despite being expensive and the cause of chronic illness, people still buy this bullshit.

Stop blaming these companies and stop taking their drugs.

The medical system is nothing but a bunch of drug pushers for our fascist system.

now, wake the fuck up.

Breaking news (0)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310855)

Scientists 'alter the statistical method until any statistical significance is found'. Full story at 11.

Is there anyone who knows much about science and scientists who didn't realise that this was common practice these days?

Duh (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310871)

This is what happens in for-profit research. And for that matter, if you need results to get the next grant, then you're effectively doing for-profit research. The whole practice of science, private and public is essentially profit driven. Until we start rewarding scientists for negative results as well as we do positive results, we're going to see a lot of faulty positive data published. This is why most major published results in cancer science can't be replicated, for instance.

Re:Duh (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311535)

no.

This is what happen at ad companies... with ANY product.

"The whole practice of science, private and public is essentially profit driven."
only for an extremely liberal definition of 'profit'.

"Until we start rewarding scientists for negative results as well as we do positive results,"
science does something even better. It rewards people for finding provable fault in others work.

"we're going to see a lot of faulty positive data published"
of course. IT's to be expected. It would surprise you if you bothered to understand that the first real peer review happens post publication. It's really the most logical way to do it. You get to the most experts in the field, quickly, evenly and cheaply.

Pre publication peer review, for the most part, is about seeing glaring errors.

Also, not all publications are equal. The ;problem is that the media and the general populace don't understand that and thing publishjing a paper equals proven and fact. some groups love to abuse that ignorance:
http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/foolishness-or-fraud-bogus-science-at-nccam/ [sciencebasedmedicine.org]

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/reporting-preliminary-findings/ [sciencebasedmedicine.org]

Re:Duh (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40312065)

Don't be obtuse. If this were expected, Nature wouldn't have published the story. There are serious architectural problems with the way we do science. We'd do well to discuss them frankly.

Not the first time they're in the heat (4, Informative)

bergelin (1320345) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310883)

They marketed a drug called Victoza before recieving authorization to market it [pmcpa.org.uk] several times, and "making claims and comparisons that were misleading, disguising promotional material and failing to provide information which reflected available evidence".

I am shocked (0)

doomdoomdoom (2640917) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310891)

SHOCKED I say!

Lies, damned lies, and statistics (3, Insightful)

amoeba1911 (978485) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310951)

The whole point of the field of statistics is to keep changing your models until you find one that shows the result you want. Why else do you think there are more than a dozen different normalization tests?

Re:Lies, damned lies, and statistics (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311583)

Why else do you think there are more than a dozen different normalization tests?

Multiple choice tests?

Re:Lies, damned lies, and statistics (2, Insightful)

neurophil12 (1054552) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311979)

It's hard to tell when someone is just expressing a cynical sentiment and when someone is being completely serious. I do take issue though when people suggest that statistics are lies, largely because I think many people get to thinking that all statistics are meaningless. Statistics are meaningful when properly applied. Statistics are complicated and there are many models because the world is complicated. Different tests are better in different situations, depending on for instance how much you want to trade off power (the likelihood of detecting a real effect) for precision (avoiding false positives), whether you have a large or small sample size, or whether you think there might be interactions between variables. Now it might be the case that someone isn't sure which test to use. Assuming they can't figure out the answer, they can run multiple tests, but if they do then they should control for that by adjusting the p-values of each test accordingly. Ultimately though scientists are human, and they will have competing interests to be honest and to cheat. The key is the process, including forms of peer review, and hopefully some day a venue for publishing negative results, such that there is less pressure to cheat. Profit will always push the needle the other direction though.

It wasn't Kevin was it?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40310977)

Shock. (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310999)

'We occasionally resorted to "playing" with the data that had originally failed to show the expected result,' he says.

So, what you're saying is you're from the marketing division?

Ask your doctor (2)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311013)

Hypoxia(TM) may cause explosive crap fits, genital warts, palm hair, excessive body odor, bleeding eyes, hairy facial moles, incontinence, ulcers, an increased risk of tuberculosis, agonizing headaches, crippling gastro-intestinal pain, rigid joints, slurred speech, massive hair and eyebrow loss, spousal abuse, certain forms of cancer, slow agonizing death, hunchback and hives.

Ask your doctor if Hypoxia(TM) is right for you!!

Re:Ask your doctor (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311843)

Hypoxia(TM) may cause...certain forms of cancer

But known only to the State of California.

Re:Ask your doctor (1)

virgnarus (1949790) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311981)

So it turns you into a carnie?

Sounds like Climate Scientists (1, Insightful)

STRICQ (634164) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311079)

Sounds exactly like what climate scientists do in order to find a signal for man-made global warming in the vast pool of noise that is natural climate variability.

Re:Sounds like Climate Scientists (2)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311151)

Sounds exactly like what denialists do in order to ignore obvious man-made tipping of the environment in order to preserve the status quo.

Re:Sounds like Climate Scientists (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311221)

You are both right.

Re:Sounds like Climate Scientists (1)

schitso (2541028) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311411)

Only two of you are right.

Re:Sounds like Climate Scientists (1)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311609)

Are we causing global warming? Maybe.

What do we do about it if we are? First, we must determine if we are, then we must deteimne how we are; only then can we determine what to do.

What do we do about it if we're not? First, we must determine that we are not, then we must determine what is; only then can we determine what to do.

Doing *anything* about global warming until we have difinitive answers is irresponsible and dangerous. I don't know which side is right, but I do know that even after we make that determination, we still have to pinpoint the precise cause of the problem before we can solve it.

Kind of like what the drug companies should be doing, and would be if they were doing the job the purport to be doing, rather than simply maximizing profits through any means possible.

Re:Sounds like Climate Scientists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40311857)

definitive answers are an impossibility, your method simplifies to "do nothing, ever." so I suggest that we might need to act a little sooner than that

Re:Sounds like Climate Scientists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40312339)

Are we causing global warming?

Yes. I think you wanted to ask 'to what extent are we contributing to global warming'.

What do we do about it if we are?

Stop needlessly polluting the atmosphere with carbon by-products, de-foresting the continents, and dumping our waste into the seas.

Doing *anything* about global warming until we have difinitive answers is irresponsible and dangerous.

Why? The worst thing that happens is that we have a cleaner planet. How is that bad?

Re:Sounds like Climate Scientists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40311455)

obvious man-made tipping of the environment

Is this like cow tipping? Except you sneak up on the environment when it's asleep and knock it over?

Re:Sounds like Climate Scientists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40312069)

It's great fun. I once pushed El Nino down a hill on a dare. We had to run all the way across the fields afterwards, though, because the farmer wasn't asleep like we thought.

Re:Sounds like Climate Scientists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40311841)

Sounds exactly like what denialists do in order to ignore obvious man-made tipping of the environment in order to preserve the status quo.

You do realize you just made yourself sound like a religious nut, right?

Re:Sounds like Climate Scientists (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311559)

Except Climate scientists have evidence, predictions, and data.

Please take you trolling elsewhere.

Re:Sounds like Climate Scientists (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40311925)

Except Climate scientists have evidence, predictions, and data.

Please take you trolling elsewhere.

The drug companies have evidence, predictions, and data as well.

Re:Sounds like Climate Scientists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40311795)

"Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. 14% of people know that." - Homer Simpson

And yeah, that includes both drug effects and global warming.

Common in mass media -- not just Big Pharma (4, Interesting)

Brewster Jennings (2642639) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311123)

I worked as a news producer in medium and large DMAs (Designated Market Areas -- usually, a single city and its suburbs) for ten years, and was the field producer for a health segment with a local physician.

Every week, we'd get news stories based on "studies": coffee is good for you, bananas are good for you, aspirin is good for, etc.

The coffee study was invariably done by retailers or growers of coffee, the same for bananas, aspirin, etc. The problem about medicine and pharmacology (or science in general, for that matter) is that you almost never get a zero-one phenomenon, and correlation does not necessarily equal causation. These ambiguities present a very large 'gray area' for the people doing these studies, unfortunately.

Add to that the fact the groups comissioning the research are going to censor out anything negative about their products, and you get an extremely unreliable information product. Trust me when I say that the husk of what remains of modern traditional journalism has neither the time, the resources, nor the inclination.

The only solution I see to this problem is for users to keep the same jaded cynicism that they should probably have for any media product, or to advocate better government regulation to separate real research from junk science.

Paula Deen (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40311175)

This is the same Diabetes drug company that employs Paula Deen as spokesperson.

So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40311183)

Is there a reason that this should be considered more bad then other practices?
Is there some government limit on advertisement that is being circumvented?
5 out of 5 advertising execs will tell you that a great deal of advertising is disguised as some sort of research.

Blood Feud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40311305)

If you want, and can stomache, a real insiders view of the completely FUBAR pharmaceutical industry I highly recommend this book: "Blood Feud". All about Procrit and Epogen and a few of their variants, the woeful tale of the whistleblowers, and much more. A mind blower.

Drug Dealers (2)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311433)

They're all the same.

just FYI, diabetes is cured now (2)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311505)

unable to work out who the writer was but they likely worked on diabetes

I realize that insulin is a huge cash cow for Big Pharma in the US, but hopefully they are not so brazen as to actively lobby the FDA to attempt to prevent the cure [canada.com] (discovered 6 years ago) from reaching the millions suffering from this disease. Suspiciously, I haven't seen any major US news outlets reporting on this interesting and insanely good news for those that suffer from the disease.

Re:just FYI, diabetes is cured now (2)

dorpus (636554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40312399)

Any number of scientists have claimed miracle cures in the past. The work will need to be replicated to establish credibility.

Additionally, mice are a poor model organism for studying obesity. Their fat metabolism is quite different from humans. They have given false hopes before to a "cure" for obesity via leptin.

Haha (1)

dorpus (636554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40312145)

I was at a big medical society meeting, where they gave free silver-platter dinners to people who attended "scientific" talks by drug companies about their product. (Of course, everyone knew it was just propaganda BS; they were just there for the free meal.) The speaker gave glowing reviews to sibutramine, which the FDA had just withdrawn from the market that day. I pointed this out during the Q&A session, and the speaker was not aware of this and made quite a fool of herself.

Invisble Hand-Wave (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40312251)

Surely the markets aren't so sensitive to a little $3billion marketing effort that messing with data would interfere with the natural ability to self-correct?

Say it ain't so.

Whatever happened to anonymity? (1)

NoSalt (801989) | more than 2 years ago | (#40312471)

"Nature says it was unable to work out who the writer was but they likely worked on diabetes and the studies criticized were from the Denmark-based pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk."

Why does Nature want to figure out who the whistleblower is, and then announce it to the world? Seems to me that would make a future whistleblower NOT want to expose wrong-doings they discover.
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