Viewers may question much of what they hear and read about scientific and medical studies after watching the latest “Full Measure” cover story.
It’s a cautionary note issued by respected industry leaders who say unseen interests are exerting enormous control over research and what is—or isn’t—published. Their startling claim: that a large percentage of articles in prestigious medical journals are simply not to be believed.
We begin with Dr. Marcia Angell of the Harvard Medical School, a pioneer in the medical journal field.
Marcia Angell: You know any drug I take has got to have been on the market at least five years, because I think that a lot of them are harmful. I think physicians and the public have come to believe that drugs are much better and much safer than they really are.
What makes Angell’s skepticism so remarkable is where she places much of the blame: on researchers and medical journals. That includes the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, where she worked for 20 years and was its first female editor-in-chief from 1999 to 2000.
Sharyl Attkisson: Most people probably think an article is, in a journal, probably written at a university based on independent study, and that’s that.
Angell: Yeah, it used to be that way, as you describe it, pretty simple. And it began to change as the pharmaceutical industry became richer, more powerful, more influential, and began to take over the sponsorship of probably most clinical research now.
But before we get to that, we begin with a more obvious example of questionable science: the Chocolate Diet. The study was a hoax by a journalist to show how easy it is to get shoddy research published.
A chocolate diet is one thing. But more and more, prestigious journals are getting caught inadvertently publishing false studies. [Read more…]