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Scientific Fraud Prevalent among Science-Based Medicines

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Health Issues page and our Appetite For a Change page.

Curious about the prevalence and extent of scientific misconduct, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago's Center for Pharmacoeconomic Research investigated the reasons why research studies were retracted, and from where.

 The highest number of incidents of misconduct occurred in the drug literature, as compared to general biomedical literature. Nearly 75 percent of the retracted drug studies were attributed to scientific misconduct, which includes:

     * Data falsification or fabrication     
     * Questionable veracity     
     * Unethical author conduct     
     * Plagiarism

 This is a significant rise when compared to a 1998 review-cited in the featured NewsWise article-in which 37 percent of scientific retractions between 1966 and 1997 were due to scientific misconduct. Even more shocking: According to data from Thomson Reuters, the numbers of scientific retractions have climbed more than 15-fold since 2001ii!

 The most unfortunate thing about this is that these are the types of studies many health care professionals rely on to make treatment recommendations. Large numbers of patients can be affected when false findings are published, as the average lag time between publication of the study and the issuing of a retraction is 39 months. And that's if it's ever caught at all.

Just How Scientific is "Science-Based Medicine" Really?

 I am a big believer in the scientific method, provided it's applied appropriately that is. And that's the key issue here. In order to qualify in the first place, the research must be unbiased, unprejudiced and free from any significant conflicts of interest. Sadly, this is not the case with most of modern medicine-especially not when it comes to drug research, as evidenced by the featured findings. 

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