Medical Research Often Hyped

We have long been alerting our readers to conflicts of issues, scams, and abuses that plague research conducted in the <"">medical and pharmaceutical communities

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. Now, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Annals of Internal Medicine have been looking at how medical academia might be hyping research results.

The Annals of Internal Medicine looked at the press releases sent by academic medical centers that seem to be touting medical study results, and analyzed data that might not necessarily have meaningful significance to target populations, said the Journal. The Annals of Internal Medicine said that such releases “often promote research that has uncertain relevance to human health and do not provide key facts or acknowledge important limitations,” quoted the Journal.

The Journal reported that the releases reviewed tended to exaggerate information about animal versus human studies, citing 200 releases and pointing out that of the 195 that contained expert quotes, 26 percent were “judged to overstate research importance,” according to the study authors. For instance, the group looked at a release from the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah that involved a study of mice with skin cancer entitled, “Scientists Inhibit Cancer Gene,” said the Journal. The article, the Journal explained, exaggerated positive effects, noting a flaw in that research in which “neither treatment efficacy nor tolerability in humans was assessed.”

The research was led by Steven Wolshin and Lisa Schwartz of Dartmouth, said the Journal, which added that the team looked at year-2005 releases from 20 academic medical centers and their affiliates. The releases were sent out by EurekAlert, a company that compiles and sends such releases to journalists. According to Wolshin and Schwartz, 29 percent—58 of 200—were found to overstate research conclusions, wrote the Journal.

We have also been following reports in which researchers actually falsify medical studies. Earlier last month, we wrote about a former Harvard researcher who admitted falsifying a medical study. According to a prior piece, Dr. Robert Fogel was disciplined by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for faking data in a sleep apnea study funded by federal research grants. The prior month, we reported that a number of medical journals were asked to retract drug studies involving Vioxx, Celebrex, Lyrica, and other drugs that were conducted by Dr. Scott S. Reuben of Baystate Medical Center.

Earlier today we wrote about an emerging scandal in which pharmaceutical giant Merck reportedly paid for publication of a bogus medical journal, reported Most of the articles in the publication’s issues presented Merck products favorably, which makes it seem as if the phony journal was developed for marketing purposes without actually indicating itself as project sponsor, said Adding to the lack of credibility, the so-called review articles contained surprisingly sparse referencing information, unusual since such review articles tend to be rife with citations and references, a factor that lends credibility to the documents. In some cases the articles were merely summaries of published work, said TheScientist.comJurassic Park movie The Longest Day ipod

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