New heart medication study was “too flawed for publication”, says former journal editor

As a heart attack survivor, I’d love to believe that when my doctors read medical journal articles, what they’re reading about new drugs is true. But I might be wrong. Consider, for example, the criticisms aimed at a study published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine by the journal’s own former editor. Dr. Arnold Relman, professor emeritus at Harvard Medical School, not only points out a couple of glaringly obvious omissions in this published research, but he also claims that he would have never have accepted such an article for publication during his NEJM tenure.

The study focused on an anticoagulant drug called apixiban (brand name: Eliquis) and it was entirely funded by drug giants Bristol Myers Squibb and Pfizer, who happen to jointly manufacture Eliquis.  Quelle surprise . . .  The drug companies claim that Eliquis helps prevent blood clots from forming following major surgery like knee replacement, and may prevent strokes in patients with the heart arrhythmia condition called atrial fibrillation.

But wait, warns author and investigative health journalist Alison BassContinue reading

How did this heart drug get approved in the first place?

In case you believe that the medicine you’re taking has been adequately tested on real live patients before being legally approved, you might want to consider research published recently in The New England Journal of Medicine*. A heart drug called nesiritide that for the past 10 years has been given to hospitalized patients with acute heart failure has failed to show any improvement compared to placebo.

But the drug had somehow received FDA approval in 2001 for use on these patients – after initial non-approval. Continue reading

NEJM editor: “No longer possible to believe much of clinical research published”

NEJM posterHarvard Medical School’s Dr. Marcia Angell is the author of The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It. But more to the point, she’s also the former Editor-in-Chief at the New England Journal of Medicine, arguably one of the most respected medical journals on earth. But after reading her article in the New York Review of Books called Drug Companies & Doctors: A Story of Corruption, one wonders if any medical journal on earth is worth anybody’s respect anymore.

“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.”

Dr. Angell cites the case of Dr. Joseph L. Biederman, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and chief of pediatric psychopharmacology at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital. She explains:

“Thanks largely to him, children as young as two years old are now being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and treated with a cocktail of powerful drugs, many of which were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for that purpose, and none of which were approved for children below ten years of age.” Continue reading