SKAPP, rhymes with ...

  • by: |
  • 03/19/2007

According to its website -- -- The Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy examines the nature of science and how it is used and misused in government decision-making and legal proceedings. Through empirical research, conversations among scholars, and publications, SKAPP aims to enhance understanding of how knowledge is generated and interpreted. SKAPP promotes transparent decision-making, based on the best available science, to protect public health.

It receives its funding from the huge settlement awarded by bankrupting Dow Corning during the silicon breast implant litigation.

Can anyone say junk science?

Marcia Angell can and did. She wrote a book called Science on Trial about how science was hijacked by David Kessler and the FDA at the time. Kessler held another advisory committee hearing with non-experts on autoimmune disorders to get the scary results he wanted on about the risks of implants when the first one upheld their safety.

SKAPP just issued an open letter decrying the use of user fees to fund FDA operations.

It was signed by Arnold Relman, husband of Marcia Angell.

It was also signed by a handful of the members of the IOM panel that wrote the drug safety report. So much for objectivity.

It includes Bruce Psaty who has shown David Graham how to twist claims data to scare people. Psaty once claimed that post-menopausal women using calcium channel blockers had a 150 percent increased risk of breast cancer.

But the study was small and, as stated in a National Institutes of Health press release, "the findings do not establish a causal link between calcium channel blocker use and breast cancer." Moreover, the study conflicts with results of SYST-EUR, a recent long-term clinical trial of CCBs that did not reveal any increased cancer incidence.

The Cancer study is just the latest in a series of CCB-scares manufactured by Dr. Curt Furberg of Bowman Gray Medical School -- another co-signed or the letter and oft-time cohort Dr. Bruce Psaty of the University of Washington. Their first scare linked CCBs with increased heart attack risk. But the evidence was so shoddy that Dr. Psaty was forced to apologize to colleagues at the American Society of Hypertension for launching a scare based on a single study with serious limitations.

As for Furberg, he was chair and principal investigator of the ALLHAT trial. He designed the trial. In so doing, he guaranteed that African Americans would be more likely to die during the study comparing different types of blood pressure durings and their impact on heart attack. As Michael Weber, who was on the ALLHAT steering commitee noted: "One factor that drove the ALLHAT conclusions more than anything else was the unexpected 15% higher stroke rate in patients treated with the newer ACE inhibitor drug as compared with the diuretic. But, on close inspection, it turned out that this result was due entirely to a 40% excess stroke rate in black patients. In fact, well before ALLHAT, it was known that blood pressure in African Americans responds poorly to ACE inhibitors, so that the excess stroke rate in these patients was not only predictable, but also highlights the ethical issue of exposing these patients to the high risks of an inappropriate treatment.

Even Furberg has publicly acknowledged that white patients do at least as well on ACE inhibitors as on diuretics, perhaps somewhat better according to an even more recent trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Susan Wood is part of SKAPP and signatory to the letter as well. She was head of the Office of Women's Health at the FDA (She is a PhD, like me, not an MD) Rather than stay and fight for women's reproductive rights at the FDA or help the FDA inform young women about HPV after the launch of the most important vaccine for woman's reproductive health in human history, she left to run SKAPP using money from a slush fund created through questionable science and manipulation of databases.

According to SKAPP

"Major support for SKAPP is provided by the Common Benefit Trust, a fund established pursuant to a court order in the Silicone Gel Breast Implant Products Liability litigation, with additional support from the Alice Hamilton Fund and the Bauman Foundation. The opinions expressed on the DefendingScience website are ours alone. SKAPP's funding is unrestricted. We do not provide our funders advance notice or the opportunity to review or approve the content of this site or any documents produced by the project."

That's fine. I really don't care where they get their dough and it's not an issue as long as they don't make where other people get their money an issue.

The same goes for the editors and producers of new organizations: just serving notice to the media that fails to report any of this but notes that CMPI receives funding from pharma or bio concerns. Transparency cuts both ways.

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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