By Dr. Al Sears
Most doctors rely on a handful of medical journals as a main source for information.
But drug companies are influencing what these journals publish.
And more importantly, what they don’t publish.
Many unfavorable facts and trials about new drugs don’t make it into these journals. Why?
A recent study showed that between two thirds and three quarters of the trials published in the major journals – Annals of Internal Medicine, The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Lancet, and New England Journal of Medicine – are funded by the pharmaceutical industry.(1)
Drug company ads made up 72% of all advertisements in the top five medical journals in 2006 and 2007.
Plus, journals with the most pharmaceutical ads were significantly more likely to publish articles concluding that dietary supplements were unsafe, than the journals with fewer pharma ads.(2)
Studies concluded pharmaceutical advertising biased these medical journals against non-drug therapies.
As a result, they often only publish stories that favor the drug companies.
Here’s what I’m talking about…
The JAMA once published a positive story about Celebrex. It was based on the clinical trial funded by its inventor, Pharmacia.
Later on, they discovered that researchers had omitted some side effects. They had failed to include six months of results from the trial and concealed that the drug caused ulcers. By then, Pharmacia had already distributed 30,000 copies of the JAMA article to doctors.
The Good News Is They’re Now Being Exposed
Finally, even those in the industry are fed up.
Dr. Drummond Rennie, a deputy editor of JAMA, said, “Drug companies try to bury negative results from clinical trials of new drugs well before publication.”
“To prevent publication of unfavorable results, companies have threatened researchers, stopped trials, and blocked publication. The consequence is biased reporting, resulting in biased treatments.”(3)
Dr. Richard Horton, editor of Lancet, wrote, “Journals have devolved into information-laundering operations for the pharmaceutical industry.”(4)
Marcia Angell, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, called these publications “primarily a marketing machine” for big drug companies “co-opting every institution that might stand in its way.” You may be taking the advice of a doctor whose primary source of medical information is one of these journals. That could be dangerous.
Many doctors are being lied to by a source they have relied on for dozens of years.
Think about this…
How many drugs that were used 50 years ago are still around today? I bet you can’t name more than one or two. We hardly use any of the drugs today that we used 50 years ago. Where have they gone? They’ve all been exposed for what they are. And were quietly withdrawn from the market.
Today there’s Vioxx, Bextra, Zelnorm, Rezulin, just to name a few that have been taken off the market since 2000.
That’s why it’s critical for you to stay informed.
It’s important you learn everything you can about a drug before using it. Don’t trust drug labels, package inserts, or even doctors to give you the full story. Many of them get their information on new drugs from these medical journals, sexy sales reps, and the drug companies. None of which have your best interests in mind.
Here’s a suggestion to help you get the information you need.
The next time a doctor wants to write you a prescription, ask him these three questions before rushing to your local pharmacy:
It’s also a good idea to ask your doctor to explain why he thinks this drug is a good choice. And remember: It’s your body, and you have a right to refuse any prescription.
- 1. Are there any natural alternatives?
- 2. What are the side effects of this drug?
- 3. How long have you been recommending this drug?
1. Egger M, Bartlett C, Juni P (2001) “Are randomised controlled trials in the BMJ different?” BMJ 323: 1253.
2. Fugh-Berman A, Alladin K, Chow J (2006) “Advertising in Medical Journals: Should Current Practices Change?” PloS Med 3(6): e130. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030130
3. Wilson, Duff A. “Many New Drugs Have Strong Dose of Media Hype.” March 16, 2010, Seattle Times.
4. Horton R (2004) “The dawn of McScience.” New York Rev Books 51(4): 7–9.
5. Adapted from Wikipedia, List of Withdrawn Drugs and Worstpills.org