Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Pharmaceutical Drug Trials Under Attack

Jeffrey Drazen is a pulmonologist and Harvard Medical School graduate. He has taken over as editor of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

For a long while Drazen has been a defender of Big Pharma. Now that he is in a position to really understand the pharmaceutical company pressure and influence that is wielded on medical practitioners, medical schools and medical publications he has changed his tune dramatically.

Amongst his many complaints is that pharmaceutical companies are placing undue pressure and influence over the supposedly independent academics hired to conduct drug trials.

He also claims that drug researchers “weren’t giving us the straight story”.

Dr. Drazen accuses three of the largest pharmaceutical companies of “making a mockery” of a government database designed to provide information about drug trials.

All the major medical journals in the US have now warned that they might refuse to publish drug studies that do not adhere to their disclosure demands.

His predecesor Marcia Angell, senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School said: “Through painful experience Jeff is learning what these companies are about. He sees the ugly side that he hadn't seen before -- the bias that company-sponsored research contains, the suppression of results that they don't like, the spin of unfavorable results.”

It wasn’t until October 2004 that regulators finally forced the drug companies to ads strong warnings about the link between anti-depressants and suicide.

Researchers familiar with the trials admitted that ‘unflattering’ findings about the anti-depressants hadn’t been published thus creating a more positive picture of the drugs than was warranted.

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