I am always suspicious of clinical trials – I want to know who has funded them for a start as that will tend to influence the outcome. It is a given of scientific theory that if you start out with a fixed view of the outcome then is likely what you will achieve.
However I did not, until recently, believe that scientists were leaving out data to produce bogus findings but it seems they are. More new age sandal-wearing, brown rice eating alternative paranoia? Well unlikely as this conclusion comes from an in-depth review of this question just published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
So what exactly is happening? They are not lying about the results (I hope) but the researchers leave out inconvenient evidence. Inconvenient here means it doesn’t put what they were investigating in the most positive light so they leave out the facts that would point that up. Only a few missing facts won’t hurt us will they? Well yes they will because when data is left out, the missing facts distort the scientific record and published results of a study. This is what your doctor uses as the basis for deciding what to treat you with so this could to potentially dangerous clinical decisions about what drugs or procedures you need.
In an editorial, Dr. Richard Lehman from the University of Oxford and BMJ Clinical Epidemiology Editor, Dr. Elizabeth Loder, call the current state of medical research as a “culture of haphazard publication and incomplete data disclosure.” This means your doctor is relying on skewed and even bogus evidence and they quite rightly call for full access to raw trial data to allow better understanding of the benefits and harms of many treatments.
I used to work in advertising so am very well aware of the fact that when promoting a product you stress its uniqueness and advantages and gloss over its drawbacks. Not a big deal when it’s a new brand of toothpaste but potentially life-threatening when it’s a new drug with unrevealed or played down side effects.
With such a determined assault on those who want to use alternative – and historically proven on real actual people – methods of treatment isn’t it time the Government took some action and put real penalties in place for misleading the public.