GM Free Cymru

Horton: Half of industry safety tests may be worthless

Date Added to website 26th June 2015

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Horton: Half of industry safety tests may be worthless
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A short article published by Richard Horton, Editor of the Lancet, in April 2015 is suddenly attracting attention, having been virtually ignored until now. He is referring to research into the health effects and safety of various drugs and chemicals in the medical sector, but of course his remarks are all too relevant for studies purporting to demonstrate the harmlessness of chemicals like glyphosate and 2,4-D and new GMOs coming onto the market and seeking approvals from regulators. As we have demonstrated on this site over and again, scientific fraud is endemic, since the commercial stakes are high and since industry is itself tasked with undertaking the scientific research required to demonstrate that what it says on the packet is true. This is not just a matter of unreliable, manipulated or fraudulent research -- of equal if not greater concern is the manner in which truly impartial and independent research is stifled or prevented by patent holders, and the manner in which those who have the temerity to discover inconvenient things are systematically hounded and vilified by vicious industry bodies and by the trolls and shills that work with them. So -- good for Richard Horton. Not for the first time, he has struck a chord and upset the establishment.....


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Shocking Report from Medical Insiders
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F. William Engdahl (NEO)
http://nsnbc.me/2015/06/19/shocking-report-from-medical-insiders/

See this: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(15)60696-1/fulltext?rss%3Dyes

A shocking admission by the editor of the world’s most respected medical journal, The Lancet, has been virtually ignored by the mainstream media. Dr. Richard Horton, Editor-in-chief of the Lancet recently published a statement declaring that a shocking amount of published research is unreliable at best, if not completely false, as in, fraudulent.

Horton declared, “Much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.”

To state the point in other words, Horton states bluntly that major pharmaceutical companies falsify or manipulate tests on the health, safety and effectiveness of their various drugs by taking samples too small to be statistically meaningful or hiring test labs or scientists where the lab or scientist has blatant conflicts of interest such as pleasing the drug company to get further grants. At least half of all such tests are worthless or worse he claims. As the drugs have a major effect on the health of millions of consumers, the manipulation amounts to criminal dereliction and malfeasance.

The drug industry-sponsored studies Horton refers to develop commercial drugs or vaccines to supposedly help people, used to train medical staff, to educate medical students and more.

Horton wrote his shocking comments after attending a symposium on the reproducibility and reliability of biomedical research at the Wellcome Trust in London. He noted the confidentiality or “Chatham House” rules where attendees are forbidden to name names: “’A lot of what is published is incorrect.’ I’m not allowed to say who made this remark because we were asked to observe Chatham House rules. We were also asked not to take photographs of slides.”

Other voices

Dr. Marcia Angell is a physician and was longtime Editor-in-Chief of the New England Medical Journal (NEMJ), considered to be another one of the most prestigious peer-reviewed medical journals in the world. Angell stated,

“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of the New England Journal of Medicine.”

Harvey Marcovitch, who has studied and written about the corruption of medical tests and publication in medical journals, writes, “studies showing positive outcomes for a drug or device under consideration are more likely to be published than ‘negative’ studies; editors are partly to blame for this but so are commercial sponsors, whose methodologically well-conducted studies with unfavorable results tended not to see the light of day…”

At the University of British Columbia’s Neural Dynamics Research Group in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Dr Lucija Tomljenovic obtained documents that showed that, “vaccine manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, and health authorities have known about multiple dangers associated with vaccines but chose to withhold them from the public. This is scientific fraud, and their complicity suggests that this practice continues to this day.”

Lancet’s Dr. Horton concludes, “Those who have the power to act seem to think somebody else should act first. And every positive action (eg, funding well-powered replications) has a counter-argument (science will become less creative). The good news is that science is beginning to take some of its worst failings very seriously. The bad news is that nobody is ready to take the first step to clean up the system.

Corruption of the medical industry worldwide is a huge issue, perhaps more dangerous than the threat of all wars combined. Do we have such hypnosis and blind faith in our doctors simply because of their white coats that we believe they are infallible? And, in turn, do they have such blind faith in the medical journals recommending a given new wonder medicine or vaccine that they rush to give the drugs or vaccines without considering these deeper issues?

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The article by Richard Horton:
Offline: What is medicine's 5 sigma?
The Lancet, Volume 385, No. 9976, p1380, 11 April 2015
http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2815%2960696-1/fulltext?rss%3Dyes

“A lot of what is published is incorrect.” I'm not allowed to say who made this remark because we were asked to observe Chatham House rules. We were also asked not to take photographs of slides. Those who worked for government agencies pleaded that their comments especially remain unquoted, since the forthcoming UK election meant they were living in “purdah”—a chilling state where severe restrictions on freedom of speech are placed on anyone on the government's payroll. Why the paranoid concern for secrecy and non-attribution? Because this symposium—on the reproducibility and reliability of biomedical research, held at the Wellcome Trust in London last week—touched on one of the most sensitive issues in science today: the idea that something has gone fundamentally wrong with one of our greatest human creations.

The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. As one participant put it, “poor methods get results”. The Academy of Medical Sciences, Medical Research Council, and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council have now put their reputational weight behind an investigation into these questionable research practices. The apparent endemicity of bad research behaviour is alarming. In their quest for telling a compelling story, scientists too often sculpt data to fit their preferred theory of the world. Or they retrofit hypotheses to fit their data. Journal editors deserve their fair share of criticism too. We aid and abet the worst behaviours. Our acquiescence to the impact factor fuels an unhealthy competition to win a place in a select few journals. Our love of “significance” pollutes the literature with many a statistical fairy-tale. We reject important confirmations. Journals are not the only miscreants. Universities are in a perpetual struggle for money and talent, endpoints that foster reductive metrics, such as high-impact publication. National assessment procedures, such as the Research Excellence Framework, incentivise bad practices. And individual scientists, including their most senior leaders, do little to alter a research culture that occasionally veers close to misconduct.

Can bad scientific practices be fixed? Part of the problem is that no-one is incentivised to be right. Instead, scientists are incentivised to be productive and innovative. Would a Hippocratic Oath for science help? Certainly don't add more layers of research red-tape. Instead of changing incentives, perhaps one could remove incentives altogether. Or insist on replicability statements in grant applications and research papers. Or emphasise collaboration, not competition. Or insist on preregistration of protocols. Or reward better pre and post publication peer review. Or improve research training and mentorship. Or implement the recommendations from our Series on increasing research value, published last year. One of the most convincing proposals came from outside the biomedical community. Tony Weidberg is a Professor of Particle Physics at Oxford. Following several high-profile errors, the particle physics community now invests great effort into intensive checking and re-checking of data prior to publication. By filtering results through independent working groups, physicists are encouraged to criticise. Good criticism is rewarded. The goal is a reliable result, and the incentives for scientists are aligned around this goal. Weidberg worried we set the bar for results in biomedicine far too low. In particle physics, significance is set at 5 sigma—a p value of 3  10–7 or 1 in 35 million (if the result is not true, this is the probability that the data would have been as extreme as they are). The conclusion of the symposium was that something must be done. Indeed, all seemed to agree that it was within our power to do that something. But as to precisely what to do or how to do it, there were no firm answers. Those who have the power to act seem to think somebody else should act first. And every positive action (eg, funding well-powered replications) has a counterargument (science will become less creative). The good news is that science is beginning to take some of its worst failings very seriously. The bad news is that nobody is ready to take the first step to clean up the system.