Medical Journals Complicit in Corruption of Medicine

November 13, 2010

13 Nov – We are no longer “blowing in the wind.”   A growing number of prominent physician-scientists, including several former journal editors, and New York Times columnists, have written sobering critiques about the corrupting impact pharmaceutical industry influence has had on medicine.

For years, the Alliance for Human Research Protection (AHRP) has documented the corrosive impact the intermingling of academic medicine and the pharmaceutical industry has had on the integrity of medical research and clinical practice. In 2002, I made a presentation about conflicts of interest at a symposium sponsored by the U.S. Army Medical Department, in which I included my “dirty dozen” corrupt research review practices that undermine both the safety of human subjects and the integrity of the research findings.

When we observed that not only the pharmaceutical industry, but physician-scientists, academic institutions, and medical journals are all invested in “keeping up appearances” rather than preserving the integrity of science, and honest medicine, we were ridiculed or dismissed as being “anti-science.”

The Truth About Drug Companies” (2004) an influential book by Marcia Angell, MD, who had been the editor of The New England Journal for two decades, laid bare the ubiquitous influence industry has on medicine.

Doctors “on the take” [to borrow the title of a book (2005) by another former editor of the NEJM, Jerome Kassirer, MD] are encouraged to promote and widely prescribe clinically worthless drugs for untested uses, without regard for the serious harm caused patients.

Although industry’s cash inducements have corrupted both individual doctors, universities, professional associations, and industry front groups that masquerade as “patient advocates,” those most responsible for the corruption of medicine are medicine’s academic leaders, prestigious medical institutions, journal editors, experts charged with formulating practice guidelines, and federal oversight agencies–in particular, the FDA, the National Institutes of Health, and the Center for Disease Control.  (More of this story posted at AHRP)