News About Clinical Trials

September 17, 2010

Mother Jones has published an article entitled “The Deadly Corruption of Clinical Trials”, which contains great details if you’re interested. The article highlights the increasing number of reports that show the pharmaceutical industry is using what many consider to be unethical and unscientific practices when it comes to conducting clinical trials for their products. They’ve turned clinical trials over to their marketing teams, who design trials that can only have an outcome that favors their product; this may mean manipulating the dose of the “other” brands, so that those in the trial who need the medication are either getting too little to have an effect, or else they’re getting enough to have a severe reaction to the side effects.

What’s more, other unethical practices have been uncovered, including burying unfavorable trials, and encouraging (through financial sponsorship) overly aggressive recruitment by the part of institutions–putting people into studies who don’t belong there (for a sad tale about a mother who’s son died after he was enrolled without her consent, despite having been ruled unfit to consent himself, please do read the article).

With regard to the specific class of drugs focused on in the article, “atypical antipsychotics”, these tactics have lead to the drugs now being “the most lucrative class of drugs”, due in part to such things as over-prescribing (they’re intended for things like schizophrenia but are also prescribed for things like insomnia) as well as over-diagnosing (specifically, a sharp rise in the diagnoses of bipolar disorder among children in the last 10 years, fitting the timeline of these tactics).

When questioned about their practices, the pharmaceuticals hide behind the “Safe and effective” approval given their product by the FDA, as if that justifies their use and misleading marketing of them.

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