Corruption in Big Pharma | John Abramson and Lex Fridman | Summary and Q&A

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February 15, 2022
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Corruption in Big Pharma | John Abramson and Lex Fridman

TL;DR

Big Pharma's influence on medical information and practices raises concerns about the reliability and accuracy of data and guidelines.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How does the reliance on peer-reviewed journals and clinical practice guidelines create potential problems in medical information?

The assumption is that peer reviewers have access to the data and independently analyze it, but they often only have the submitted manuscripts, which can result in inaccuracies and incomplete information.

Q: What level of manipulation can occur with data from pharmaceutical companies?

Manipulation can happen at various levels, from excluding certain data from analysis or publication to altering numbers. The extent of manipulation may vary, but all three types can occur.

Q: What happened with the case of Vioxx and the New England Journal of Medicine study?

Merck, the manufacturer of Vioxx, left out three heart attacks from a study published in the journal. This omission affected the statistics and conclusions, potentially downplaying the drug's increased risk of heart attacks.

Q: Who is responsible for the manipulation of data in the Vioxx case?

The decision to not include the three heart attacks was made by Merck, with knowledge from their employees. The academic authors listed on the study were unaware of this omission.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Doctors rely on information from peer-reviewed journals and clinical practice guidelines, assuming that the data they are based on has been thoroughly analyzed. However, peer reviewers often lack access to the data, leading to potential inaccuracies and incomplete information.

  • Pharmaceutical companies may manipulate data at the study design level, exclude certain data from analysis or publication, or even alter numbers, potentially leading to biased conclusions.

  • A specific example is the case of Vioxx, where the drug's increased risk of heart attacks was omitted from a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, affecting the overall statistics and conclusions.

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