Keith J. Winsstein and David Armstrong in a story from the Wall Street Journal report that a prominent Massachusetts anesthesiologist allegedly fabricated 21 medical studies that claimed to show benefits from painkillers like Vioxx and Celebrex, according to the hospital where he worked.

File this under CSI Health    Crimes. We’ve seen how drug trials go unpublished when the reusults are unfavorable.


We place a lot of confidence in our medical experts. There has been an assumption that when a drug makes it to market, it has run a rigorous gauntlet of testing and proper disclosure. Testing, yes. Disclosure — not necessarily.

The Trust Tax That Makes Health Care Too Costly For You

Since 2004, prescription drug scandals over deceptive marketing, unreported side effects and hidden payments to medical researchers have undermined public confidence. There’s a growing “trust tax” that increases the cost of doing business as Stephen Covey describes. In this case, the trust tax is increasing the cost of health and well being. These scandals have also highlighted the gap between the number of clinical trials conducted and the number published.

For a decade or more, researchers, federal regulators, pharmaceutical companies and medical journal editors have sought a balance between commercial secrecy, scientific openness and the public health. Incomplete test results can lull doctors into believing that drugs they prescribe are better than a placebo, and they lead scientists away from conducting follow-up studies.

If you ask drug manufacturers their opinion, they’ll say that too much information about drug safety might overwhelm patients and raise undue alarm. Really? I don’t know about you, but when the options for relief include nausea, bloating, drowsiness, constipation, diarrhea, rectal bleeding or projectile vomiting as possible side effects, I’m skeptical.

Fearing consumers may forget about the benefits of a medication if they focus only on risk, is a lot like smoking. If every time someone lit up and thought about dying from lung cancer, they might not smoke in the first place. Then where would the ATF and the tobacco companies be?

If we had  transparent conversation about being healthy, we might find that it’s not rocket science after all.

What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

In November of 2008, analysts led by health research expert Lisa Bero at the University of California in San Francisco did an investigation. They checked 164 clinical trials testing 33 different drugs, which were submitted for FDA approval from 2001 to 2002. The researchers found that one in four of the studies had not been published. Almost all of the unpublished findings made the drug in question look bad.

And for those arguments against taking an herbal or nutritional supplement because it might interfere with a drug’s action, I say you have much bigger problem to worry about. You’re on a death spiral and no drug is going to help you if you don’t know how or can’t give your body the nutrition it requires.

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