Biased Science Gets More Press in Selling Sickness 2013

Posted by The Evidence Blog on June 4, 2013

We’ve talked on this blog before about our concerns about data suppression, bias in industry-funded research, and the spin that some medical journalists use when reporting clinical trials results. We aren’t the only ones who are concerned about such biased science. Selling Sickness 2013 (, held in February 2013, was an international conference that brought together academic scholars, healthcare reformers, consumer advocates, and progressive health journalists to examine a wide range of topics, including misleading marketing, journalistic standards, conflicts of interest, medical overtreatment, and ethics in medical education, to name a few.

One outcome of the conference was the Selling Sickness Call to Action that addresses what the organization refers to as the “growing corruption of medical science and health care.” Part of the statement reads:

Commercial imperatives are being allowed to corrupt clinical, research and marketing practices which now include hiding data, inflating diagnostic categories, unnecessary screening and treatment, deceptive marketing, faulty and biased research and publishing, inadequate oversight, a neglect of social factors and injustices, and uncritical, unbalanced reporting.

Selling Sickness, which seeks to become an alliance between patients and professionals, calls for the enactment of several reforms intended to improve public health and safety and save money. Some of these reforms include more regulated direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs and medical devices, comparative-effectiveness research that evaluated drugs and devices against appropriate controls, rapid identification and removal of unsafe or ineffective products, and access to raw clinical trial data so that independent analyses can be performed. These are common-sense reforms, from our perspective. What do you think?

Topics: Hayes Blog

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