Organic Consumers Association

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Why Most Medical Research Cannot be Trusted

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

 It's old news that drug companies essentially "bribe" doctors into prescribing their drugs by lavishing them with gifts - branded pens and coffee mugs, free lunches, golf outings, "educational" trips to the Caribbean   all have been regarded as fair game in the past, although now such free goodies are heavily discouraged.

 Just how much influence such gifts had on doctors has long been debated (although the research suggests it did have a significant impact   why else would the drug companies put so much money into it?). But regardless, sound medical research published in a reputable medical journal should have much more influence 

 A pen with a drugmaker's name emblazoned on the side couldn't possibly persuade a physician to prescribe a drug more than clinical data published in a medical journal.

 Yet, what many people do not understand is that much of the scientific research published in journals is bought-and-paid-for by the drug industry as well.

 A far more covert - and far more influential - practice than showing up at a physician's office with a free pizza and a duffel bag full of coffee mugs, by controlling medical research itself the drug industry can make it virtually impossible for a well-meaning physician to decipher the truth about the medications he or she is prescribing to you.

Most Medical Journals Depend on Big Pharma Advertising Dollars

 In The American Scholar, author Harriet Washington writes:

     "  while we still gravely debate whether physicians' loyalties can really be bought for a disposable pen or a free lunch, the $310 billion pharmaceutical industry quietly buys something far more influential: the contents of medical journals and, all too often, the trajectory of medical research itself.

       Flimsy plastic pens that scream the virtues of Vioxx and articles published in the pages of The New England Journal of Medicine would seem to mark the two poles of medical influence. Scarcely any doctor admits to being influenced by the former; every doctor boasts of being guided by the latter. 

    In fact, medical-journal articles are widely embraced as irreproachable bastions of disinterested scientific evaluation and as antidotes to the long fiscal arm of pharmaceutical-industry influence.

 And yet, 'All journals are bought - or at least cleverly used - by the pharmaceutical industry,' says Richard Smith, former editor of the British Medical Journal  "

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