I’ll admit; I read medical research in my spare time and I enjoy doing it. I enjoy it mostly because every once in a while, Man will study something natural, something that God has made, and just find proof of God’s awesomeness!
But this is not what modern-day research is marked by. Modern-day medical research is plagued with a horrible track record, proving that much of the research (especially that for conventional, man-made pharmaceuticals) is biased, reworked, and/or simply false. This is the very same research in which many of God’s people today put their faith. It is the very same research that causes God’s people to turn to instead of the things He has made. And it is the very same research that creates a religious following with an angry defense when someone tries to share a natural alternative.
I call this Pharmianity. It is the idea that “science” is the ultimate authority and the only reliable source of information. Pull up a chair while I detail some of the major conflicts of interest throughout the last few decades that help us dispel that myth and see what the true track record of modern-day medical research really is:
In January 1992, Berkely Technology Law Journal published a paper entitled, University Physician-Researcher Conflicts of Interest: The Inadequacy of Current Controls and Proposed Reform.1 In this paper, the writer expressed concerns over the conflict of interest in colleges and other medical research organizations who are funded by corporations with biased interest. The writer concluded:
“The rapidly advancing biotechnology industry continues to generate many critical legal and ethical issues. One unresolved issue is the troubling increase in conflicts of interest, conflicts of commitment, and scientific misconduct in university research.
University researchers’ increased dependence on private industry funding has contributed to part of the rise in conflicts of interest. As the demand for biotechnology research funding has skyrocketed, the federal portion of total funds available for research grants has diminished. Industry has eagerly stepped in to fill the funding gap
…when granting a lucrative research arrangement, a company may require a researcher to agree that potentially profitable research findings will remain confidential, unpublished, or significantly delayed in publication. As a result, the scientific community may be deprived of valuable findings that suggest treatment options for patients. In efforts to accommodate industry, researchers may compromise scientific goals in favor of industry’s objectives.”
Just a few examples of the timeline of conflicted interest funding in “scientific” research entities:
- In 1974, Monsanto and Harvard solidified a $23 million partnership.2 Monsanto agreed to pay Harvard $23 million in exchange for patent rights to the fruits of their labor in medical research.
- In 1988, Harvard worked side-by-side with the large chemical corporation Dow Chemical on “cancer research.” Together, Harvard and Dow Chemical patented a genetically-engineered mouse for “cancer research.” Oncomouse was genetically-modified to carry a gene that made the mouse more susceptible to cancer.
Now for those who want to think this and other “cancer research” is done in pursuits of a “cure,” consider this:
Dow Chemical is one of the largest chemical manufacturers. They have been involved in numerous litigation suits for their products CAUSING cancer and other health problems. Lawsuits for things like the highest dioxin water pollution levels found anywhere that were found in the waterways near the Dow headquarters and causing high rates of cancer among local residents (year 2007), their production of Bisphenol A (now banned), and insecticides used on/around the home that were found to be potent neurotoxins. With every lawsuit, Dow Chemical forged on, ignoring warnings and EPA hazard reports.
Now you tell me–does this sound like a company that is interested in a cure?! Many of these lawsuits were many years AFTER research was done with oncomouse to make a living creature more susceptible to cancer.
On to some more examples:
- In 1989, two agencies were formed to investigate scientific misconduct with universities and funding corporations.3
- In 1990, Congress investigated a conflict of interest between the University of Florida and Pharmatec.3
These kinds of biased funding relationships continued.
By 2012, things still hadn’t changed. Almost every major U.S. based pharmaceutical company had at least one board member in a leadership position at a major American university. The board members were compensated an average of $312,564 by the pharmaceutical companies, while concurrently holding clinical or administrative leadership positions at academic medical centers, the researchers report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).4
Even apart from collegiate research, there is no doubt of the prevalent bias in modern-day published medical research. According to a long-time editor of one of the most highly-regarded medical journals:
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 (“Drug Companies and Doctors: A story of Corruption.” NY Review of Books, Jan. 15, 2009.)5
She further stated:
Industry-sponsored trials published in medical journals consistently favor sponsors’ drugs—largely because negative results are not published, positive results are repeatedly published in slightly different forms, and a positive spin is put on even negative results.
A review of seventy-four clinical trials of antidepressants 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.
- 23% of the studies had missing funding information (meaning the organization funding the study was “missing”).
- “Studies partly or completely sponsored by industry, however, were published in more prestigious journals and are probably cited more, although their methodological quality and size were similar.”
- 70% of the studies “were of poor quality with overoptimistic conclusions—that is, not supported by the data presented.”
The study concluded:
“Publication in prestigious journals is associated with partial or total industry funding, and this association is not explained by study quality or size.”6
Dr. Jefferson, one of the authors of the study cited above, states:
The study shows that one of the levers for accessing prestige journals is the financial size of your sponsor. Pharma sponsors order many reprints of studies supporting their products, often with in house translations into many languages. They also purchase advertising space in the journal. Many publishers openly advertise these services on their website. It is time journals made a full disclosure of their sources of funding.6
There is plenty of evidence to tell us that the modern-day medicines and practices we have available to us through American “health”care are not always evidence-based practices. For example, according to research published in 2011:
One third of the recommendations put forth by the College in its practice bulletins are based on good and consistent scientific evidence.7
One third. ONE THIRD. This means two-thirds of common obstetrical practices are done not based on solid evidence but on “limited or inconsistent evidence” or “consensus and opinion”!!!!!!!!!
This is true of many fields of medicine. Many doctors make treatment decisions based on what they are told from pharmaceutical representatives and biased studies. Dr. Angell also stated:
“No one knows the total amount provided by drug companies to physicians, but I estimate from the annual reports of the top nine US drug companies that it comes to tens of billions of dollars a year. By such means, the pharmaceutical industry has gained enormous control over how doctors evaluate and use its own products. Its extensive ties to physicians, particularly senior faculty at prestigious medical schools, affect the results of research, the way medicine is practiced, and even the definition of what constitutes a disease.5
I don’t think there’s any need to go on. The point is that there exists an extensive amount of published and proven bias and conflicts of interest behind much of the conventional medical (or “scientific”) research. Look no further than the named individuals and institutions behind much of today’s research and you are likely to find a conflict of interest.
Of course, we live in a free country and everyone is free to choose their religion. As long as we call it what it is. It is not science. It is religion. A belief.