Bad Pharma: account of pharmaceutical industry scientific fraud is readable and rigorous


17 Responses to “Bad Pharma: account of pharmaceutical industry scientific fraud is readable and rigorous”

  1. Toffer99 says:

    Taking a prescription drug? Ever wonder if it was doing any good?

    • Nutrition Industry says:

      Why yes, an antibiotic kept me from dying.  You?

      • Toffer99 says:

        I’m on 8 pills a day. I know the Aspirin works, as I bleed like a stuck pig if I cut myself shaving. The rest, who knows. I suppose I could cut them out one at a time, and if I drop dead, that one was working.

  2. paul says:

    Publication bias is pretty common even in studies undertaken purely for prestige, so it  doesn’t surprise me that the corporate-controlled version would fit right in. Many, many clinical researchers have had the idea that what’s worth publishing is what “succeeds”.

  3. Joshua Ochs says:

    Why is it we mock people who believe in conspiracies involving JFK, the moon landing, etc, but we readily buy into even larger-scale ones when it suits our interests? The first paragraph quoted alone would require hundreds if not thousands of people to be “in on it”, and yet that is suddenly reasonable just because we like to hate on large companies.

    • Glen Able says:

      It’s not “when it suits our interests”, it’s “when someone like Dr. Goldacre helpfully compiles the facts which show the full story”.

    • C W says:

      Facts of a conspiracy are what separate conspiracy theory from reality.

    • Nutrition Industry says:

      But these aren’t facts.  They are extrapolations.

    • LaGrange says:

      The difference is that there’s no real assumption of conspiracy — just people filtering their own opinions to lower their employment risk, for example. You don’t have a huge amount of telescopes pointed at a single rocket launch, for example, just lots of people working on lots of projects, many of them under pressure to deliver results, and just generally systemic issues that lead to lowered quality. Just like a doctor might give you an antibiotic even though they know that it’s likely unnecessary, but they expect you to pressure them to “do something” — so they do it out of pure expectation of problems.

      And it’s not “all medical research is scam”, just “the process is not as effective as assumed”. Ineffective or harmful drugs fall through the cracks because people involved don’t really want to disappoint their employers, or to argue with people with vested interests.  At that point, straight-up bribes aren’t even necessary.

  4. anansi133 says:

    The banking industry, Big Tobacco, “too big to fail” auto companies, .Big Pharma… And now Citizens United: Is it such a paranoid leap to conclude that a criminal conspiracy is running the planet?

  5. schneidr says:

    This book is not about conspiracy theories. Here is a snippet from the first chapter taken from Goldacres own website:

    “This isn’t a simple story of cartoonish evil, and there will be no conspiracy theories. Drug companies are not withholding the secret to curing cancer, nor are they killing us all with vaccines.” 

  6. Paul Harrison says:

    I think it’s worth pointing out that this is still so much better than alternative medicine that it’s not funny, because that would be a very easy message to take away from a post like this.

    It’s a rather odd state of affairs when I can walk into a pharmacy [in Australia] and 90% of products on display are snake oil with very carefully worded labelling that sounds exciting but actually make zero health claims, and that have only been tested to the extent of showing they do no active harm.

    I would be interested in your thoughts on how an intelligent consumer of medicine should go about choosing their treatments, and also how a better society would go about this whole business, because I have a hard time imagining it and your’re good at that imagining stuff.

    • Nutrition Industry says:


      If you are sick, seek treatment for your sickness from a person who bases their recommendation on science rather than a belief.  If that person gives you a treatment that doesn’t work, go back and ask for something better.  If it isn’t better then, go to someone who knows more about your sickness.

      If you go to someone who believes they can make you feel well or better, you might die.

      End of Story.

  7. Kevin Curry says:

    Working in medicine this is quite frustrating. We need to practice evidence based medicine for obvious reasons but most of that said evidence is funded by the very people who stand to gain from it — this is the direct result of how FDA drug testing works by the way. Now I think the book overstates it a bit, most studies are in large patient groups and are fairly well conducted though generalizability is almost always an issue. The problem is that there is no alternative available at this time. Government sponsored drug trials? Who knows?

  8. Nutrition Industry says:

    Isn’t this a repost of a previous story a few days ago?  I am happy to again put Mr. Bad Science’s points into context, but it seems silly for me to post them over and over again.

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