Here's why you never hear about drugs not working...
Last week I told you about how a research lab hired by Big Pharma got in trouble with the FDA for allegedly cooking their books. Basically, the FDA says the chemists "falsified" data to make it look better.
Well, there's another way Big Pharma keeps the bad news about their drugs from ever reaching your ears. It's very simple. The just don't publish it.
It may surprise you that drug companies aren't required to publish results from their clinical trials.
But they're not.
So if testing on a drug doesn't go well... if the test shows the drug doesn't work so great... they just throw the results in the corner to collect dust. According to a new Canadian investigation, this leads to "overestimation of treatment benefits and may adversely influence clinical practice."
Your doctor gives you a drug that doesn't work as well as you think it should. Remember -- all the published reports are positive and show GREAT results! So even your doc gets duped by this scam. He thinks the drug should work wonders on you too!
And to matters worse, the new Canadian investigation only looked at "systemic cancer treatments." So here, we have patients with cancer. They take chemo, hoping for a cure. The treatments don't work. But no one knows about it because Big Pharma doesn't publish the results. And then, some of these chemo drugs actually wind up getting FDA approval!
Or sometimes, the bad results are for drugs already on the market! Big Pharma suppresses those bad studies as well.
Investigation turns up "substantial" amount of unpublished data
Canadian researchers investigated phase three clinical trials for cancer. They looked at 709 clinical trials presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology between the years 1989 and 2003.The investigators found that:
- 66 clinical trials remain unpublished to this day
- 94 clinical trials were published five or more years after the initial presentation
Overall, ¼ of the clinical trials were never published or greatly delayed. The majority of these trials pertain to the treatment of breast, gastrointestinal, blood, and lung cancers.
And shockingly, over 70 percent of them reported negative results. So if the results weren't good, 70 percent of the time, they just didn't get published.
And this has an impact on how oncologists treat cancer patients.
Investigators say the biggest problem arose from an unpublished lung cancer treatment. Typically, oncologists treat lung cancer patients following a set protocol. This is with cisplatin, vinblastine, and radiation. Typically, the trend is for oncologists to give you this all at once. They say it improves overall survival rate.
But that's not what the unpublished study found.
They unpublished data revealed that survival rate is no different when you get these treatments all at once versus getting them one at a time in sequence.
So now, you have hundreds of thousands of lung cancer patients in the U.S. getting heavy doses of chemo and radiation at the same time. When really they would do just as well getting them one at a time. Sure, the treatment will take longer...say six months instead of three. But it's probably gentler on the patient.
Plus, what about all the patients who signed on for the advancement of cancer treatments?
Nameless, faceless and unnoticed sacrifice
Dr. Vincent C. Tam, MD from the University of Toronto, in Ontario led the investigation into unpublished clinical trials. He believes there is a moral obligation to publish the results of these trials. He said:
Approximately 23,770 patients participated in the unpublished trials listed in our compendium -- an astounding number of patients with cancer who participated in trials after being informed that the results would contribute to public knowledge, and might improve cancer treatment.
But their sacrifice went unpublished and, therefore, unnoticed by the medical community.
Dr. Tam wants to see a change in policy. He hopes that organizations that fund big clinical trials -- like NIH -- will require that all the results get published. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Plus, he wants to see medical journals offering up space for short reports on negative trials.
For goodness sakes, pharmaceutical news is the only kind of news in the world where you only hear about the success stories! Wish my local nightly TV news would do the same.
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About the author
Nationally acclaimed as America’s “Nutrition Physician,” Dr. Spreen has been helping people stay healthy and disease-free as a private doctor, published author, and noted researcher.
In addition to his role as a Senior Member of the prestigious Health Sciences Institute Advisory Panel in Baltimore, MD, Dr. Spreen also coaches diving at the international and Olympic levels. NorthStar Nutritionals is proud to have Dr. Spreen as our Chief Research Advisor.
Dr. Spreen also writes the Guide to Good Health.