Not only since the Covid vaccinations has it been known that the pharmaceutical industry is by no means interested in people’s health, but in its own profit. But the massively controversial gene therapy drugs against Covid-19 and their spasmodic marketing by politicians, the media and high-ranking representatives of medical science and research have ensured that the public has also become much more aware of this problem. The important medical journal “The BMJ” (British Medical Journal) has given critical voices a platform in the past and remains true to this course: A recent article explains that “evidence-based medicine” is nothing more than pure illusion.
the comment published on March 16 by Jon Jureidini and Leemon B. McHenry details how the financial interests of the pharmaceutical industry corrupt the entire scientific establishment. According to the authors, the official results of drug studies by companies are ultimately worthless – raw data are concealed, the actual results of clinical studies remain in the dark. Supervisory and regulatory authorities do not take action against this, as they are themselves funded by the pharmaceutical industry. Academics serve as mere marketing helpers instead of critically questioning studies. Anyone who dares to voice criticism will be suppressed. The authors state unequivocally: people die because financial interests are paramount.
These serious allegations are not made out of thin air: thanks to the Covid crisis, every attentive citizen was able to observe these machinations in their own country. Financial conflicts of interest run through all authorities and institutions; there can be no question of independence anywhere. Pharma lobbyists cavort in political offices, whole party conventions are sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, the heads of influential institutions are happy about financial injections from questionable sources and the alleged “regulatory authorities” are also closely linked to the pharmaceutical industry. Anyone who follows the trail of money will always find it.
Below is the article worth reading from the BMJ Translated into German (emphasis and subtitles by Report24):
Evidence-based medicine has been corrupted by corporate interests, failed regulation, and the commercialization of science, these authors argue
The advent of evidence-based medicine was a paradigm shift aimed at providing a solid scientific basis for medicine. However, the validity of this new paradigm depends on reliable data from clinical trials, most of which are conducted by the pharmaceutical industry and reported on behalf of high-level scientists. The release of previously confidential pharmaceutical industry documents to the public has given the medical community valuable insight into the extent to which industry-sponsored clinical trials are being misrepresented. Until this problem is solved, evidence-based medicine will remain an illusion.
Financial interests outweigh the common good
The philosophy of critical rationalism, put forward by the philosopher Karl Popper, was known to uphold the integrity of science and its role in an open, democratic society. A science of real integrity would be one in which practitioners are careful not to cling to cherished hypotheses and take seriously the outcome of the most rigorous experiments. However, this ideal is threatened by corporations in which financial interests trump the common good. Medicine is largely dominated by a small number of very large pharmaceutical companies competing for market share but effectively united in their efforts to expand this market. The short-term boost to biomedical research from privatization was hailed by free-market advocates, but the unintended, long-term consequences for medicine were severe. Scientific progress is thwarted by possession of data and knowledge because industry suppresses negative study results, fails to report adverse events, and fails to share raw data with the academic research community. Patients are dying because of the detrimental impact of commercial interests on the research agenda, universities and regulators.
Academics only serve to market pharmaceutical products
The pharmaceutical industry’s responsibility to its shareholders means that hierarchical power structures, product loyalty and public relations must take precedence over scientific integrity. Although universities have always been elite institutions that can be influenced by foundations, they have long claimed to be the guardians of truth and the moral conscience of society. But faced with insufficient government funding, they have adopted a neoliberal market approach and actively sought pharmaceutical funding on commercial terms. As a result, university institutes become instruments of industry: With corporations controlling the research agenda and ghostwriting articles in medical journals and continuing medical education, academics become agents for the promotion of commercial products. When scandals surrounding industry-academic partnerships are exposed in the mainstream media, trust in academic institutions is weakened and the vision of an open society betrayed.
The corporate university also jeopardizes the concept of academic leadership. Deans, who achieved their leadership positions because of outstanding contributions to their disciplines, have been replaced in places by fundraisers and academic managers who are forced to prove their viability or show how they can attract corporate sponsorship. In medicine, those who excel in science are likely to be important opinion leaders (key opinion leaders – KOLs in marketing lingo) whose careers can be furthered by the opportunities in the industry. Potential KOLs are selected based on a complex set of profiling activities performed by companies, for example physicians are selected based on their influence on the prescribing habits of other physicians. KOLs are sought after by industry for this influence and for the prestige their university affiliation brings to the branding of the company’s products. As well-paid members of pharmaceutical advisory boards and speaker’s offices, KOLs present results of industry studies at medical conferences and in continuing medical education. Instead of acting as independent, disinterested scientists, critically evaluating a drug’s performance, they become what marketers refer to as “product champions.”
Massive repression of critics
Ironically, industry-sponsored KOLs seem to enjoy many of the benefits of academic freedom, as they are supported by their universities, industry, and journal editors to express their views, even when those views are inconsistent with actual evidence. While universities fail to correct misrepresentations of science from such collaborations, industry critics face journal rejection, legal threats and the potential destruction of their careers. It was precisely this uneven playing field that Popper was concerned with when he wrote about the suppression and control of the means of scientific communication. The preservation of institutions designed to promote scientific objectivity and impartiality (ie public laboratories, independent scientific journals and congresses) is completely at the mercy of political and economic power; self-interest will always override the rationality of the evidence.
Regulators are bought
Regulatory agencies receive industry funding and use industry-funded and conducted drug approval studies without, in most cases, seeing the raw data. What confidence do we have in a system that allows drug companies to “grade their own homework” rather than have their products tested by independent experts under a public regulatory system? Unconcerned governments and captive regulators are unlikely to embark on the necessary changes to completely remove research from the industry and purge publishing models that depend on reprint, advertising and sponsorship revenues.
People must be the focus – and not company interests
Our reform proposals include: exempting regulators from funding from pharmaceutical companies; taxing pharmaceutical companies to allow for public funding of independent studies; and, perhaps most importantly, de-identified study data at the individual patient level, published along with study protocols on appropriately accessible websites to allow third parties, self-appointed or commissioned by health technology agencies, to rigorously assess the methodology and study results. With the necessary changes to study consent forms, participants could request that study participants make the data freely available. The open and transparent publication of data is consistent with our moral obligation to study participants – real people who have been involved in risky treatments and have a right to the results of their participation being used according to principles of scientific rigour. Industry concerns about privacy and intellectual property rights should not prevail.