"medicine is broken" - Ben Goldacre, co-founder of AllTrials
February 4, 2013 2:06 PM Subscribe
posted by greenish (33 comments total)
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has been talked about here before
. This year, following on from his book Bad Pharma
- where he described a culture of badly-done medical trials on unsuitable subjects (sometimes with horrific but, tragically, potentially preventable outcomes
), where swathes of results that don't reflect well on the drug in question go unpublished and even, in some cases, hidden - he has co-founded the project AllTrials
, which campaigns for all
medical trials to be recorded and reported.
Goldacre claims that reporting all trials that take place would mean that corporations can no longer skew published results in their favour by hiding away the less favourable ones. This means that the drugs which come to market and are prescribed most often are the best possible ones for the job.
But what about competition? Surely there's a market for variety and some kinds might be better than others? Yes, but if a company tells a doctor that their drug is the best, when it cures 6/10 people, and another drug is available that cures 8/10 - then the doctor who is swayed by false results could be missing an opportunity to cure two more people out of every ten.
Furthermore, missing data can lead to potentially crucial data not being published, such as the desperately sad case of a new anti-arrhythmic drug, which was prescribed to people who had had a heart attack as a preventative measure for further attacks. "well over 100,000 people died unnecessarily before it was realised that the fine balance between benefit and risk was completely different for patients without a proven abnormal heart rhythm."
(quote taken from excerpt lower down page). This could have been prevented if a 1980 study reporting the issue, although writing it off at the time as an anomaly, had been published. It was subsequently published "with a mea culpa, realising the harm that had been done by not publishing it sooner" but sadly, the damage had been done.