This investigative report may lead you to question much of what you hear and read about scientific and medical studies. 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 Harvard, a pioneer in the medical journal field.
Dr. Marcia Angell: I think physicians and the public have come to believe that drugs are much better and much safer than they really are.
What makes Dr. Marcia 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: Most people probably think an article is in a journal, probably written at a university based on independent study, and that’s that.
Angell: 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.