Monday, November 15, 2010

A pot and a kettle walk into a bar...

Dr Peter Dingle's latest 'health advice from a non-health qualified person' in that esteemed journal of well researched information, Nova, is on the subject of published research on pharmaceuticals (EoR's emphasis):

An interesting dimension of pharmaceutical companies’ practices is that the same drug companies that reap money from drugs conduct the research, pay the researchers and control the research - including what is, and is not, published. Drug companies engage in censorship, bribery, corruption, fraud, suppression of negative studies and all varieties of unscrupulous tactics to sell their products; there are literally hundreds of studies that demonstrate this situation. At the simplest level, most medical research is financed by pharmaceutical companies seeking support for drugs that are either on the market or in development.

Big Pharma, we are informed, are nefarious, devious, malevolent and all powerful.

The influences employed include participant bias, ghost writing, pressure on researchers or, even worse, financial incentives for researchers, fake journals and just about any underhanded means by which a pharmaceutical company can achieve the outcomes it desires, including pressure on or removal of dissenting academics.

Strangely, Dr Dingle, as a dissenting academic, still has his job. Perhaps his powers of resistance are more powerful than the average academic?

Dr Dingle's argument is effectively the same one promoted by climate change deniers: scientists are corrupt, papers are faked, the science is made up. Don't believe it. They're only in it for the money!

To sum it up, the studies are rigged from the beginning, and still the doctors trust the research and the drug companies? If it were any other business, these companies would be out of business and no one would believe the information. So why do we do it here?

Of course, there are genuine concerns about industry influence on studies, but a more balanced and nuanced view of the issues involved would be better found at Bad Science than the Nova Journal of Fearmongering.

What is interesting, however, is not what Dr Dingle mentions but what he doesn't, since his arguments are so often selective presentations. There is, for instance, no discussion of Big Altie. What funding do they do? How do they influence the various studies they conduct (when they conduct them)? What funding does Dr Dingle receive, if any? His website includes a link to Nova on the front page, while Nova includes a link on its front page to Dr Dingle's site. Are these funded? What influence (whether stated or implied) might there be in this relationship? What other Doctors, naturopaths or organisations does Dr Dingle recommend? Do these, in return, recommend him? Is there any financial incentive, whether directly or indirectly? Does the fact that Dr Dingle is married to a naturopath influence his health recommendations? Is the fact that he has a conflict of interest from running a business promoting his unqualified health advice relevant? Is it more relevant for not being mentioned? EoR doesn't know, since there is no disclosure.

A serious question of ethics arises as a result of the strong link between the authors of most of the studies, at least the ones showing positive results, and the pharmaceutical companies. The disclosure of the associations reads like a Who’s Who of the pharmaceutical industry.

Is this also applicable to the altie world? Or do they play a purer game?

1 comment:

  1. His website is not titled "Get the truth" or "Follow the facts" but "Let your business GROW".

    Opinion for hire?



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