Daddy, where does science come from?

  • by: |
  • 03/06/2006

If a pharmaceutical company funds a well-constructed double blind clinical trial designed, overseen and reported on by highly respected medical researchers are the results relevant?

Not necessarily.

Consider the IDEAL (Incremental Decrease in Endpoints through Aggressive Lipid Lowering) trial, a multicenter, open-label study with blinded endpoint evaluation involving 8888 patients with coronary heart disease, an LDL of 122 mg/dl — and costing big money. Nobody can find any fault in the trial design and the results address a crucial global public health issue. But you can read all about all of the good news elsewhere.

Or can you?

Unfortunately, that task won’t be easy, because news reports on the study focus less on its critical findings than on the fact the study was (don’t faint) funded by Pfizer. Can you imagine that? A clinical trial funded by a big bad pharmaceutical company! How was that allowed to happen!

It’s a horrible (and horribly predictable) outcome of the on-going demonization of the pharmaceutical industry led by the media-political complex. And while not surprising, it’s dangerous for three main reasons:

FIRST: It casts aspersions on important and relevant health care information that could save lives.

SECOND: It gives governments worldwide political cover to avoid revising antiquated reimbursement guidelines (even though they would save significant money in the long term by addressing chronic conditions earlier and more aggressively).

THIRD: It lends unwarranted credence to those who would call for government being the sole source of medical research.

In those less than ideal circumstances we’d all end up paying — and in more ways than one.


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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