Drugs Companies and Research Publications

by Chris Sturr | February 14, 2009

The Guardian had another important piece on the industry in today’s edition. Here’s the context:

The British Medical Journal this week publishes a complex study that is quietly one of the most subversive pieces of research ever printed. It analyses every study ever done on the influenza vaccine–although it’s reasonable to assume that its results might hold for other subject areas–looking at whether funding source affected the quality of a study, the accuracy of its summary, and the eminence of the journal in which it was published

Series: Bad science

Funding and findings: the impact factor

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian, Saturday 14 February 2009

This column is about tainted medical research, not MMR. Now don’t get me wrong: it’s still an interesting week to be right about vaccines. Brian Deer in the Sunday Times claimed that the medical cases in Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 paper were altered before publication. The measles figures came out: they’re up by 2,000% over the last seven years, and rising exponentially.

On Friday, the Autism Omnibus court hearing in the US–a massive two-year case involving 5,000 children–ruled there was no evidence for MMR causing autism (nor for the mercury preservative thimerosal).

There is no reason to believe that MMR causes autism. The anti-vaccine campaigners will continue to mislead, stifle, or even smear. But it’s important to keep your head and not be polarised by the other side’s foolishness: because there are plenty of genuine problems in vaccine research, even if the campaigners have focused on a bad–and perhaps simplistic–example.

The British Medical Journal this week publishes a complex study that is quietly one of the most subversive pieces of research ever printed. It analyses every study ever done on the influenza vaccine–although it’s reasonable to assume that its results might hold for other subject areas–looking at whether funding source affected the quality of a study, the accuracy of its summary, and the eminence of the journal in which it was published

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