Faking Medical Reality
“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.” —Marcia Angell, MD
“The secret of acting is sincerity. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” —George Burns
The faking of medical reality is, at bottom, an operation designed to bolster the power of the medical cartel, one of the most important forces on the planet.
What do doctors rely on? What do medical schools rely on? What do medical journals and mainstream medical reporters and drug companies and the FDA rely on?
The sanctity of published clinical trials of drugs. These trials determine whether the drugs are safe and effective. The drugs are tested on human volunteers. The results are tabulated. The trial is described in a paper that is printed by a medical journal.
This is science. This is rationality. This is the rock. Without these studies, the whole field of medical research would fall apart in utter chaos.
Upon this rock, and hence through media, the public becomes aware of the latest breakthrough, the newest medicine. Through doctors in their offices, the public finds out what drugs they should take—and their doctors know because their doctors have read the published reports in the medical journals, the reports that describe the clinical trials. Or if the doctors haven’t actually read the reports, they’ve been told about them.
It all goes back to this rock.
And when mainstream advocates attack so-called alternative or natural health, they tend to mention that their own sacred profession is based on real science, on studies, on clinical trials.
One doctor told me, “The clinical trials and published studies are what keep us from going back to the Stone Age.”
So now let me quote an article in the NY Review of Books (May 12, 2011) by Helen Epstein, “Flu Warning: Beware the Drug Companies.”
“Six years ago, John Ioannidis, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Ioannina School of Medicine in Greece, found that nearly half of published articles in scientific journals contained findings that were false, in the sense that independent researchers couldn’t replicate them. The problem is particularly widespread in medical research, where peer-reviewed articles in medical journals can be crucial in influencing multimillion- and sometimes multibillion-dollar spending decisions. It would be surprising if conflicts of interest did not sometimes compromise editorial neutrality, and in the case of medical research, the sources of bias are obvious. Most medical journals receive half or more of their income from pharmaceutical company advertising and reprint orders, and dozens of others [journals] are owned by companies like Wolters Kluwer, a medical publisher that also provides marketing services to the pharmaceutical industry.”
Here’s another quote from the same article:
“The FDA also relies increasingly upon fees and other payments from the pharmaceutical companies whose products the agency is supposed to regulate. This could contribute to the growing number of scandals in which the dangers of widely prescribed drugs have been discovered too late. Last year, GlaxoSmithKline’s diabetes drug Avandia was linked to thousands of heart attacks, and earlier in the decade, the company’s antidepressant Paxil was discovered to exacerbate the risk of suicide in young people. Merck’s painkiller Vioxx was also linked to thousands of heart disease deaths. In each case, the scientific literature gave little hint of these dangers. The companies have agreed to pay settlements in class action lawsuits amounting to far less than the profits the drugs earned on the market. These precedents could be creating incentives for reduced vigilance concerning the side effects of prescription drugs in general.”
Also from the NY Review of Books, here are two quotes from Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of The New England Journal of Medicine, perhaps the most prestigious medical journal in the world. (“Drug Companies and Doctors: A Story of Corruption”)
“Consider the clinical trials by which drugs are tested in human subjects. Before a new drug can enter the market, its manufacturer must sponsor clinical trials to show the Food and Drug Administration that the drug is safe and effective, usually as compared with a placebo or dummy pill. The results of all the trials (there may be many) are submitted to the FDA, and if one or two trials are positive—that is, they show effectiveness without serious risk—the drug is usually approved, even if all the other trials are negative.”
Here is another Angell statement:
“In view of this control and the conflicts of interest that permeate the enterprise, it is not surprising that [drug] industry-sponsored trials published in medical journals consistently favor sponsors’ drugs—largely because negative results are not published, positive results are repeated in slightly different forms, and a positive spin is put on even negative results. A review of seventy-four clinical trials of antidepressants, for example, found that thirty-seven of thirty-eight positive studies were published. But of the thirty-six negative studies, thirty-three were either not published or published in a form that conveyed a positive outcome.”
It turns out that the source of the informational pipeline that feeds the entire perception of pharmaceutical medicine is a rank fraud.
It would be on the order of an intelligence agency discovering that the majority of its operatives were actually working for the other side.
And then continuing on with business as usual.
Sometimes the body is dead even though it keeps on walking. It can smile and nod and perform basic functions—a zombie—but it is doing so only because certain implacable criminals back it up and give it a machine-like force.
“We have the clinical trials of studies on drugs and they are published in top-rank journals. We are the epitome of science.”
Yes, false science. Riddled from top to bottom with lies.
Perhaps this will help the next time a friend, pretending he actually knows anything, tells you pharmaceutical medicine is a resounding success.
If you need more, cite Dr. Barbara Starfield’s famous study, “Is US Health Really the Best in the World?”, Journal of the American Medical Association, July 26, 2000. Starfield concludes that 225,000 people are killed by the medical system in the US every year—106,000 by FDA-approved medicines. That latter figure would work out to over a MILLION deaths per decade.
Note: The august editors of medical journals have a game they can play. Suppose a drug company has just finished writing up the results of a clinical drug trial and has submitted the piece to a journal for publication. The editor knows the company carried out a half-dozen other such trials on the same drug…and they didn’t look good. The drug caused wild fluctuations in blood pressure and blood sugar. There were heart attacks. Strokes. But this ONE study, the one submitted for publication, looks very positive. The editor knows if he prints it and forgets about “ethics,” the drug company will order re-prints of the piece from him and distribute them to doctors all over the world, and to reporters, professors, government officials. The drug company will order and pay for so many re-prints, the medical journal can make $700,000 from publishing THAT ONE STUDY. Let’s see. In one hand, the editor sees: I won’t publish it=no money. In the other hand, he sees: I’ll publish it=$700,000. What to do?
Here is yet another way to do medical studies that guarantee a waterfall of lies will spread out far and wide. Another way to make the studies look good when they aren’t.
Let’s say you went into a school to see if it was a good place for your child to acquire a real education. And you were shown overall performance records of the students on standardized tests, and these records looked quite impressive.
Upon inquiring a little further, though, you came across an interesting point. The head of the school believed that some students just didn’t perform well on tests—and so he had excused them from taking any exams.
Shocked, you said to him, “Your performance records are a sham. They don’t reflect the truth. You’ve stacked the deck.”
And he replied, “Not at all. I’ve merely kept statistics on those pupils who have the ability to take tests. That’s the important population. The others shouldn’t be tested at all. In this venue, they don’t count.”
Keep that analogy in mind as we proceed.
I want to alert you to a staggering medical practice in clinical trials of psychiatric drugs.
It’s called “placebo washout.”
Basically, it works this way. Before a drug company starts to test the effectiveness of a new medicine they want to market, they bring together all the volunteers—and they give them a sugar pill.
They tell them, “We’re going to give you a sugar pill.”
After a ten-day period on the placebo, the researchers weed out the people who improved, got better, feel better. They dump them from the ensuing clinical trial. Bye bye.
They don’t want these people around for the real clinical trial that is to follow.
Of course, they claim there are good reasons for this washout strategy. But the fact is, eliminating these volunteers from the study makes it far more likely that the drug being tested will look good, when it shouldn’t.
First, in case you don’t believe placebo washout is a real and widespread practice, do a search for it at the NIH website.
It’s real. They give everybody a sugar pill, and then they dismiss all those who got better on it.
Then they get down to the actual clinical trial. They divide the remaining volunteers into two groups. Those who will receive the drug, and those who will be given another placebo.
Nobody is told which group they’re going to be in. That’s the whole point. Blinding the study enables researchers to compare the number of people who get better on the drug with those who get better on the placebo.
You see, it’s common knowledge that some people will get better on anything. That’s why they form the two groups. They have to prove (to the FDA) the drug is performing better than the sugar pill.
General estimates vary on what percentage of people get better on placebos. 35-45%, some researchers say, is a rule of thumb. Sometimes the % is higher.
But wait! The researchers ALREADY kicked out the people who got better on the sugar pill during the 10-day preliminary washout!
What’s going on here?
Well, in the actual clinical trial, where half the people get the placebo and half get the medicine, some people who get the placebo—armed with the hope that they might be getting the medicine—will feel better, even though they’re only swallowing sugar pills.
And the researchers must show that more people who are getting the drug are feeling better than those who are getting the placebo.
That’s the whole reason for this type of clinical trial.
“See, 47 people who took the drug feel better. And only 22 people who took the sugar pill feel better. Therefore, the drug really works.”
Sure it works. Because you already kicked out all the people who felt better on a placebo in the washout phase.
In effect, you did a screening. You “cut out the competition.”
It’s like saying, “We have a great runner on our team. His times in the 100-meter dash are exceptional…there’s only one thing. In track meets, we insist he run only 80 meters and you have to imagine it’s 100.”
The FDA, which approves all drugs for public use, knows all about the placebo washout con job. Researchers know this. Shrinks know this. Drug companies know this. Even some medical reporters know this.
And yet, the practice goes on.
Placebo washout is on the order of saying, “Yes, we tested the new plane and it performs magnificently. Of course, we didn’t put it into the air. We rolled it across the runway.”
If there are any psychiatrists out there who are reading this, any researchers who want to defend placebo washout, I suggest we set up a debate with Dr. Peter Breggin, psychiatrist and author. But I warn you. Buckle up. It’ll be a bumpy ride.
Placebo washout. Rigging the game. Stacking the deck. The bigger the lie and the more obvious it is, the harder it is to believe that’s what’s you’re looking at. Until you LOOK.
In my 30 years as a reporter, I’ve come across maybe 100 scandals that could cause a significant sector of the medical cartel to burst into flames and blow away in the wind. This is one of those.
Of course, media, government, and drug corporations make sure such a thing never happens. And when I say media, I’m including publications you’d think would love to watch a really good fire. Turns out they have no stomach for it.
NOTE: In case you’re still a little shaky on this scam, let me lay it out this way:
A drug company has a new drug, Gx, for depression. It’s not on the market yet. For that they need FDA approval, and the approval rests on the results of a clinical trial the company is going to launch.
The company signs up 500 volunteers, all of whom meet mainstream criteria for a diagnosis of clinical depression.
The company brings together the 500 volunteers and administers them a sugar pill (placebo) for 10 days. Everybody knows it’s a sugar pill.
After 10 days, the company discovers which of the 500 people responded well to the pill: placebo effect. Let’s say 80 people did. They feel better. Boom. They’re dumped from further consideration. They’re gone.
Why? Because chances are very good that, were they allowed on to the next phase, those among them who ended up with the sugar pill would have said, “Wow, I feel better. I feel less depressed.”
And THAT means the people who were given the actual drug, Gx, would be “up against stiffer competition” from the group who took the placebo.
After those 80 people were booted from the placebo washout phase, with 420 volunteers left, they were divided into 2 groups of 210 each, and then 210 got the drug, Gx, and 210 got a sugar pill. None of the volunteers knows what they’re getting. This phase of the trial goes on for 6 weeks. At the end of that period, the study is “unblinded,” and everyone knows who got which pill. Now, among the placebo group of 210, it turns out that 60 showed significant improvement, and among the group of 210 who got Gx, 85 showed improvement.
The researchers conclude, “Those on Gx performed significantly better than those on placebo. This drug is good.”
But had those original 80, who were kicked to the side of the road after the placebo washout phase, been included in this later phase, the conclusions of the researchers could have turned out quite badly for the drug and the drug company. Gx could have performed no better than the sugar pill. It could have done worse.
And this is called SCIENCE.
By Jon Rappoport
Source: Jon Rappoport’s Blog