Response to US going to clean up Depleted Uranium in Iraq


(For anyone not interested in this topic, this particular e-mail is just about conflict of interest and corporate control over medicine, in answer to 'Alan''s comments. I will post a message again dealing specifically with this issue in relation to Gulf War related illnesses).

'Alan' seems to have an unjustified faith in the peer review system and in corporate control over researach. It is not that corporate funded research is always going to be bad, but researchers will be put under pressure to ask certain questions as opposed to others, and to come up with studies which will show the funding industry in a good light. Researchers often find it difficult to impossible to get funding for certain types of research. The company also 'owns' the research in a lot of cases and can bury it if they so wish.

Marx made a comment at some stage about the ruling ideas of any age being the ideas of the ruling class. This is so in relation to ideas in medicine as it is in newspapers. It is not just a question of 'nasty' corporations corrupting and frustrating poor innocent doctors and researchers. Some of them identify with the interests of corporations and are only too happy to oblige.

I will post somtehing again more specifically about the BMJ and about GWS. In the mean-time here are a few relevant links.

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The problems with conflict of interest have been discussed by the Lancet here.

http://www.healthcoalition.ca/tainted.pdf

where they say 'To return to our first question:how tainted by commercial conflict has medicine become? Heavily and damagingly so, is the answer.'

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British Medical Journal: Disclosure of financial competing interests in randomised controlled trials: cross sectional review here.

http://bmj.com/cgi/content/full/326/7388/526

'Although industry involvement in published randomised controlled trials was substantial, the true extent and nature of financial relationships between investigators and industry is difficult to assess because of variable adherence to the disclosure guidelines. Recently, editors of prominent medical journals have moved beyond disclosure as a mechanism for managing competing interests. Editors will ask authors to document that they had access to the data and were able to make publication decisions independently. Poor adherence to the existing uniform requirements raises the question of the degree to which journals adhere to these more stringent requirements. '

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Drugs inquiry thrown into doubt over members' links with manufacturers

Monday March 17, 2003 The Guardian here.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/medicine/story/0,11381,915766,00.html

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and the problems with the peer review system have been discussed in this article from the Guardian

Trial by peers comes up short here.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/online/science/story/0,12450,875199,00.html

According to Dr Tom Jefferson, from the Cochrane Collaboration Methods Group: "If peer review were a new medicine, it would never get a licence."

.."... we have found little empirical evidence to support the use of peer-review as a mechanism to ensure the quality of research reporting, and there's even more depressing evidence about its value in deciding what should be funded."

...Jefferson's team scrutinised 135 studies, designed to assess the evidence that peer review is an effective method of deciding what should be published.

He said: "We had great difficulty in finding any real hard evidence of the system's effectiveness, which is disappointing, as peer-review is the cornerstone of editorial policies worldwide."

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an interesting piece on peer review by David Horrobin here.

http://post.queensu.ca/~forsdyke/peerrev4.htm

(The British Medical Journal has recently published a ridiculous, vindictive and grossley misleading obituary of David Horrobin and his work. I think that they should point out the bad points as well as the good ones of what people did, but they should be accurate and not misleading. ).

Here are a few extracts of what Horrobin writes here :

A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision and an analysis of the peer review system substantiate complaints about this fundamental aspect of scientific research. Far from filtering out junk science, peer review may be blocking the flow of innovation and corrupting public support of science.

... the Rothwell and Martyn findings, coming on top of so much other evidence, suggest that the public might be right in groping its way to a conclusion that there is something rotten in the state of science. Public support can only erode further if science does not put its house in order and begin a real attempt to develop validated processes for the distribution of publication rights, credit for completed work, and funds for new work...

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Created By: Orla Ni Chomhrai