Scientific studies are meant to be objective. So when researchers investigate the effectiveness of a new drug, they are supposed to accept and publish whatever they discover. Unfortunately, drug companies often bury negative results so they can make their products look better. And they’re working overtime to keep that system in place.
According to a report by the British publication The Guardian, the pharmaceutical industry is lobbying hard to keep European regulators from forcing drug companies to publish secret documents about drug trials.
The Guardian has been given a memo that outlines how two pharmaceutical trade groups, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), are coordinating their efforts and putting together patient groups to oppose the release of information about drug studies.
According to The Guardian, “The memo, from Richard Bergström, director general of EFPIA, went to directors and legal counsel at Roche, Merck, Pfizer, GSK, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Novartis and many smaller companies. It was leaked by a drugs company employee.”
Tim Reed of Health Action International, an advocacy group that has revealed how these patients groups are created and paid for by drug companies, told The Guardian, “It’s incredibly ironic that this is a transparency initiative and we’ve now got clear indications that the pharmaceutical industry is ready to use patient organizations to fight their corner. It underlines the fact that patient groups who are in the pay of the pharmaceutical industry will go into battle for them. There’s a hidden agenda here. The patient groups will say they think it’s a great idea to keep clinical trials data secret. Why would they do that? They would do that because they are fronts for the pharmaceutical industry.”
Only about 50 percent of clinical trials of pharmaceuticals are ever fully published. If a study has positive results, it is twice as likely to appear in a journal than research that finds a drug doesn’t work as advertised.