Medical journals influential in promoting — or destroying — new drugs should not be trusted because research once considered independent is now paid for by the pharmaceutical industry, according to the former editor of one of the nation's top journals.
"Yeah, it used to be that way," said former New England Journal of Medicine Editor Dr. Marcia Angell. But, she added, "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."
Appearing on Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson, Angell even had a warning to anyone looking to use newly approved drugs based on scientific studies.
"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," she said on the show that runs Sunday mornings on Sinclair TV stations and online.
Angell, who was the journal's editor in chief from 1999-2000, suggested that Big Pharma's control over research spending casts doubt on results, something she tried to police.
"I would call up and say, okay, you've shown that your drug is pretty good. But there's not a single side effect. Any drug that does anything is going to have some side effects. And I had people say, 'Well the sponsor won't let me.' I became to be extremely distrustful of most of the research that was published. We did our very best, we often rejected things because it was clearly biases, but anything we rejected always ended up in another journal," she explained.
Attkisson interviewed a medical doctor who has written drug studies and he suggests that many are now just ads for drugs.
Dr. Howard Pomeranz, a neuro-ophthalmologist at the Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine, said, "It is, and I think that's often the way you have to look, look at it."
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org