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Date posted: September 7, 2011

Lancet’s editor calls fraudulent medical research a ‘scar on the moral body of science’. But it’s really just part of an entire system of fraud in medicine.

Medical science is rampant with fraud. At the Mayo Clinic, ten years of research that appeared to be leading towards harnessing the immune system to fight cancer is worthless because of fraudulent studies and later research based on the fraudulent ones.

Retraction of medical research papers is at an all-time high. Though error was cited at a 3 to 1 rate over fraud, one must seriously question whether simple error is the primary reason. After all, these studies are peer-reviewed. They are supposed to have passed rigorous examination. But, what’s the reality?

Of course, as Gaia Health readers have seen over and over, the reality is that flaws in much of medical research are blatant. Often, merely examining a study, instead of taking it at face value, demonstrates that the conclusions are not supported by the evidence.

Nonetheless, those same studies are cited as evidence of efficacy of drugs and procedures. Even after papers have been retracted, the impression they’ve given doesn’t disappear. Research based on those papers is already designed and in process.

Doctors are loathe to change their practices on the basis of bad studies. Changes are made more readily as new drugs and procedures are advocated, not as old ones are discredited. Just take a look at doctors’ continuing to prescribe bisphonates for the nonexistent disease, osteopenia (pre-osteoporosis), and hormone replacement therapy for another nonexistent disease, menopause—or even the routine prescribing of fever-reducing drugs, which is nearly always counter-productive.

Does Better Error Detection Explain the Retractions?
Some medical journals are claiming that they’re better at detecting errors, implying that there really isn’t an increase in fraudulent papers. That explanation simply doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. They offer no explanation as to what might make them better at detecting errors now. In other words, the august journals are basing the claim on absolutely nothing but wishful thinking.

Worse, some are claiming that the advent of plagiarism software explains it. But how does finding plagiarism in papers explain fraudulent studies?

The simple fact is that they’re finding more fraudulent studies because they’re actually looking for them. And not as a result of their own internal reviews, but because of fraud scandals that reached mainstream media.

Why So Much Fraud in Medical Studies?

There is a tremendous amount to be gained by getting away with fraud in medical studies. The reason is simple. According to Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet:

A single paper in Lancet and you get your chair and you get your money. It’s your passport to success.

It’s all about money. Get published in a major medical journal and your future is made. Most peer reviewers are doing their own studies. That’s what makes them peers. They want to be able to publish. Therefore, they are not particularly inclined to make more than perfunctory negative comments. Obviously, they don’t want to alienate the authors of papers, since they either are or hope to become published themselves.

Source : http://gaia-health.com/articles501/000510-drug-study-corruption.shtml

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