The tarnished reputation of university research

As merely a dull-witted heart attack survivor with a relatively recent interest in scientific research (and only because it can influence how my doctor and yours practice medicine), I like to think that university researchers are a noble lot. But in an essay called The Dawn of McScience, Dr. Richard Horton delivers a surprising indictment of academic research.

In his New York Review of Books column about the book called Science in the Private Interest, he cites its author Dr. Sheldon Krimsky of Tufts University School of Medicine, who lumps universities in with industry like so:

“Universities have become little more than instruments of wealth.

“This shift in the mission of academia works against the public interest. Universities have sacrificed their larger social responsibilities to accommodate a new purpose – the privatization of knowledge – by engaging in multimillion-dollar contracts with industries that demand the rights to negotiate licenses from any subsequent discovery.”  Continue reading

Medical journals: “information-laundering for Big Pharma”?

Whenever you read a medical journal article with a title like Medical Journals Are an Extension of the Marketing Arm of Pharmaceutical Companies, you know it’s a bad day for patients.

As a heart attack survivor who spends way too much of my time hanging out with cardiologists, pain specialists and other doctors who read these journals, I especially hate seeing this article written by a person like Dr. Robert Smith, who was himself the editor of the British Medical Journal for 25 years.*

Dr. Smith’s not alone. Consider Dr. Richard Horton of the medical journal, Lancet, who once wrote:

“Journals have devolved into information-laundering operations for the pharmaceutical industry.”

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Take statin drugs “when diet and exercise are not enough”

Is it just me, or does this Italian cholesterol drug ad for the Novartis statin called Lescol (fluvastatina in Italian) look like it’s telling cute fat Italians that they can eat, drink, and be merry as long as they pop this statin drug every day?