How Drug Companies Manipulate Data to Make False Claims

Both patients and doctors are subsistence manipulated to the tune of billions of dollars.

The intelligence in this blog post may impact you, but it is information that the common needs to be made aware of. The exploitation discussed here centers on the effectiveness of drug trials, and some of the ways bombastic pharmaceutical companies manage to make hale condition claims which are, in many cases, not genuine.

The first thing to examine is how drug efficacy is calculated by pharmaceutical manufacturers. How accomplish they arrive at their numbers in the in the beginning place? It’s not actually that complicated for all that most of us have been led to think to be true we need a PHD to raise sense of their statistics. When a drug actually works, (think of the dramatic benefits of discovering insulin or penicillin), the results are for a like rea~n obvious that statistics or percentages without delay become secondary to the observable benefits. However, the math games break the ice when a new drug doesn’t be in action as well as hoped, when its benefits are not in such a manner obvious, or when profits may have existence in jeopardy.

The illusion of percentages

Imagine you were given a exquisite been two prizes. Prize one is 10% of a secret amount of money, and prize two is 90% of a mystery aggregate of money. All things being equal, 90% seems like the better select. However, there is a catch. What on the supposition that prize one was 10% of a the great body of the people dollars, ($100, 000), and prize brace was 90% of a hundred dollars ($90)? Does that make some ~ in. your mind about what the improved in health choice is? Of course it does.

What is missing in this scenario is something called one absolute number. Both of the percentage values presented are truthful; 10% of a million is $100, 000 and 90% of one hundred is 90$. But, if we desire to know which is the more intimate. see various meanings of good choice, we need to know event called an absolute value. It is by the absolute value that we turn if a result is significant. Otherwise some number you come up with is no other than useful (in this case) as a marketing tool. It is completely useless for the purposes of comparing the certain benefits of choices. If we don’t know what the real benefits are afterwards who cares about percentages? This divisor particularly important when evaluating treatments that could have ~ing beneficial but which are associated with risks of significant negative sidegoods. Without it, there is no habit to assess a risk-benefit fixed relation.

Remember these words, absolute and connected with. Absolute numbers or values are the certain/precise numbers. Relative numbers or values are sustained by on other numbers. In other words, they are relative to other (supreme) numbers. Percentages are relative. With a percentage in detachment, you do not know a formal number. You only know one moiety of the available data and it is the one advertiser companies want you to point of convergence on. Ninety percent improved or forcible sounds like a significant number. However, to the time when you know the absolute value of what it represents or what it is compared to, it could medium nothing at all (or worse!).

If you walked into a curative clinic and you were given a comedy of paper saying that you were facing a 100% increase in your risk of contracting a given infirmity it would sound really terrifying! That is for it sounds like a guarantee that you leave get sick. However, discovering that it is in reality just a percentage of a larger digit means it could very well have existence a paper tiger. What if that 100% jeopardize represents an increase from one to couple out of a thousand in the not particular population? Would you still be terrified since that you know the absolute contain being compared to?

Let’s step gone from medicine for a moment and take heed into really clear example of stacking the advantage … gambling … that which if someone told you could enlarge your odds at winning the lottery ~ the agency of 100%? Pretty good deal right? Whoa, … not such fast

Canada’s biggest lotto jackpot was won ~ dint of. a group of oil workers in our division of Alberta. This lucky group of 17 took home $54.3 the great body of the people in October of 2005. Not disappointing for a day’s purchase. The exactly impressive number in this equation was positively the odds of winning: one in 13,983,816. So, suppose that you increased your odds of charming the lottery by 100%, in this suit it would mean … drum roll …TWO in 13,983,816!

Not considerably worth a lot of risk one time you know the absolute numbers, on the same level when the likelihood of winning is increased by a whopping 100%.

It might look juvenile to put it in the articles of agreement above, but prescription drugs and risky surgeries are encouraged this progress all the time. The data is severe, but its value is not core accurately portrayed. This is like 90% of 100 dollars against 10% of a million; the percentages mediocrity nothing without the full  representation.

My favourite example of this accommodating of trickery was the Lipitor ads that boldly told us that the drug would reduce heart attack risk ~ the agency of 36%. Now that you know that percentages by themselves are useless because they are not absolute, it leads us to ask the sort of the real numbers are.

Here’s by what means they got the data they are bragging hither and thither:

The 36 percent relative risk mastery figure came from a study published in Drugs called Prevention of coronary and calamity events with atorvastatin in hypertensive patients who require average or lower-than-average cholesterol concentrations, in the Anglo-Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Trial–Lipid Lowering Arm (ASCOT-LLA): a multicentre randomised controlled temptation.

This research was a subcategory from a larger study that looked at 20,000 subjects with high blood pressure as well for example three other cardiovascular risk factors. The study participants were randomized into two groups. Each group took one or the other of pair blood pressure lowering medications. From not more than the larger group, around 10,000 subjects were selected who besides had cholesterol levels at or under 250 mg/dl (6.5 mmol/l). In etc. to the blood pressure medications, half of this group got 10 mg of Lipitor (atorvastatin) per day while the other half got a placebo in a line with their blood pressure medication. Note: extreme blood pressure is itself a greater factor in the risk of a interior attack. Further note that the results of this toil can only be applied to folks who already have high blood calamity and two other risk factors with regard to heart disease. If you don’t be obliged those risks, the drug has ~t one benefit. Most prescribing doctors forget or don’t cursory reference that part of the study.

In the Lipitor/placebo arm of this examination, the endpoint for an individual’s participation was defined as a non-baneful heart attack or death from seat of life disease.

After around 3 ½ years, this section of the project was discontinued for there were a noteworthy number of one and the other heart attacks of deaths from intent disease in the placebo group. As a terminate, the researchers felt it was unethical to protract the study.

When the data were assessed, it turned abroad that the group taking Lipitor practised a 36 percent decrease in connection risk for heart disease. Thus, the effusion of advertisements for Lipitor ensued.


These results rational awesome, but they are not in reality that impressive. 36% is the definite risk reduction. Look at the graph from the study, the perpendicular axis tells you that the independent percentage difference is a drop from 3.0% to 1.9%. That’s solely a difference of 1.1%!! According to Liptor’s admit webpage at the FDA absolute conversion is only 1.2%!!

Dr. Michael Eades MD has some excellent way of illustrating this dissimilitude with the following image:


The lateral effects from statin drugs include: muscle agonize & muscle wasting, liver damage, rashes, elevated hotspur sugar/type 2 diabetes, as well to the degree that nerve damage. Considering that these drugs are 98.8% ineffective, what the heck are we catching them for?

This is why you continually, always want to know the unrestricted risk before you make a conclusion on anything based on relative risk. Because absolute risk numbers are usually fine low in drug studies, the pharmaceutical activity typically uses them \to sell their medicines. When someone tells you to take a deaden with narcotics, ask about the absolute risk associated through its research.

According to a notice critically published in the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology, other studies of statins usher similarly unremarkable results. In absolute terms, statin users had between 1.2 and 1.5 percent fewer cardiovascular complications than those anger placebo. The authors believe that notwithstanding statins, “…their modest benefits are in addition than offset by their adverse effects.” Statin drugs have over 300 listed obliqueeffects with the FDA, which comprise heart failure and the progression of passion disease. Yes, you read that correctly; this is a disposition medication approved by various international hale condition agencies which actually promotes heart ailment. That sure is an amazing profession model. It involves creating a disruption, which is really exacerbating a point to be solved, so you need to keep buying besides of the supposed solution, which is actually making the problem even worse. The potential for profit is amazing!

In March of 2015, Okuyama and colleagues at Nagoya City University published a report called Statin Drugs Stimulate Atherosclerosis and Heart Failure: pharmacological mechanisms. In this circulate publicly they explain the biochemical basis in quest of their claim that statins may contribute to clogged arteries and heart muscle failure. The researchers in subject of investigation cite several mechanisms by which statin drugs advance heart disease. They close by remark that, “…the epidemic of vital part failure and atherosclerosis that plagues the recent world may paradoxically be aggravated through the pervasive use of statin drugs.” My! Oh My! It positive is a good thing that statins decrease heart attack rates by 33% (relative pronoun) on paper or this entire division of very profitable drugs would be totally useless. The impact on Big Pharma would have ~ing catastrophic. (Please note the sarcasm here!)

Primary prevention vs. secondary prevention

If that wasn’t dire enough, there’s more! If we defectiveness to get to the real force rates behind these magical prescription drugs, we likewise need to understand primary vs. subordinate prevention. Primary prevention aims to prevent disease or injury before it occurs at tot~y, while secondary prevention aims to curtail the impact of a disease or injury that has already occurred. There are herculean differences between these two groups, viewed like well as their relationship to risk benefit ratios.

Making billions by using a dangerous unproven drug for prevention

Originally, statin drugs were prescribed only for secondary prevention. They were used in the stoppage of a second heart attack or visitation if a patient had already suffered one and had clear signs of affections disease. In other words, clear and not heedless risks justified risks. But, this was not a unblemished way to expand markets and complete more money. To help promote the appliance of these drugs to otherwise well people, AstraZeneca, the maker of the cholesterol lowery drug Crestor, funded the JUPITER study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2008. This should even now be sending up huge red flags, inasmuch as the authors of the study stand to secure billions of dollars based on its results. In incident, regarding conflicts of interest in this essay, the Institute of Science in Society voiced their concerns that:

“The be at the head of author is a co-holder of the clear for the hsCRP test used, that became the standard method of mensuration at $50.00/test. Nine of the 14 authors had eminently expressive financial ties to AstraZeneca, whose investigators in addition collected, controlled, and managed the damp data and monitored the collection sites. It is well established from other drug company sponsored studies that bias have power to creep in, such as the preponderance in the placebo group of patients with a family history of heart complaint or metabolic syndrome, both of which significantly increase risk.”

In other tongues the deck was stacked in advance of the study. The placebo form into ~s (representing the general population) had a higher from of subjects likely to develop feeling problems. They would have done in greater numbers poorly that the test group divisible by two if medications were not being administered. Even the smallest results in the ordeal group would appear much more forcible than they really were.

The JUPITER study boasted that statin drugs could debase the risk of heart attack ~ means of 54 percent, the risk of touch by 48 percent, the risk of needing angioplasty or bypass surgery ~ means of 46 percent, and the risk of dying from all causes by 20 percent. But remember they are using particular statistical numbers to boost their results. If you behold at absolute risk, statin drugs benefit just 1 percent of the populousness. This means that out of 100 populace treated with the drugs, one body will have one less heart run at.

According to Dr. David M. Diamond, a professor of psychology, corpuscular pharmacology and physiology at the University of South Florida, “In the Jupiter test, the public and healthcare workers were informed of a 54 percent abatement in heart attacks, when the not merely supposed or fancied effect in reduction of coronary events was smaller quantity than 1 percentage point…”

Is this entirely beginning to sound familiar? Have you noticed that it entirely adds up to billions in profits?

According to a May 29th 2013 critical instant in the very pro-business Forbes storehouse:

“Statin drugs, already the ~ numerous-prescribed drug category, saw their employment climb 17% to more than 214 the multitude monthly prescriptions annually, according to data provided by IMS Health, a consulting partnership that can track drug prescriptions at the pharmacy proportion.” The article continues and uses the manipulated risk information mentioned above to push the deaden with narcotics even more. It uses statements like “These drugs take been shown, with quite a al~ of evidence, to reduce the jeopardy of heart attacks and deaths in a distant range of patients. Those taking statins receive about a 20% lower risk of a love attack.” These statements are a remote cry from the 1 percent amendment (absolute) cited by Dr Diamond and by the Institute of Science in Society. However, it is with appearance of truth worth mentioning that Forbes’ interest is in avails not efficacy.

According to an paper in The Telegraph, (Statins: the drug firm’s goldmine) Pfizer’s Lipitor was the world’s utmost height-selling medicine last year, according to IMS, raking in sales of $13.3 billion. Take a heartfelt breath before you read the following … populate spent 13.3 billion dollars during a drug that is likely to perform nothing, and is even more agreeable to cause significant sideeffects like cancer, erectile dysfunction and muscle wasting. Worst of all, many of these prescriptions, tests and appointments are paid towards with tax/insurance dollars, meaning that every single one of us was essential ~ robbed that year by Pfizer.

Chemotherapy: The 2% Gamble

A writing entitled Contribution of Cytotoxic Chemotherapy to 5-year Survival in Adult Malignancies, published in 2004 in the Australian Journal of Clinical Oncology, analyzed the niceness of the actual benefit claimed by chemotherapies in the treatment of adults by the most common forms of cancer. The mainstream media completely ignored the findings of this extremely important paper. It was a meta-decomposition. A meta-analysis is a statistical technique instead of combining the findings from independent studies. It is the figure of research most often used while assessing the clinical effectiveness of healthcare interventions. It does this ~ the agency of combining data from multiple randomized repress trials. This is a gold ensign method for determining the absolute effectiveness of a given medical treatment. Let’s see what they form in a mould out regarding the true effectiveness of chemotherapy.

This carefully detailed Australian study was based put ~ an analysis of results from the whole of of the randomized, controlled clinical trials (RCTs) performed in Australia and the US what one. reported a statistically significant increase in 5-year survival due to the use of chemotherapy in person of mature age malignancies. Survival data was obtained from the Australian cancer registries and the US National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) registry. The scrutiny covered the period of January 1990 till January 2004.

In those cases in what one. the data were uncertain, the authors intentionally erred forward the side of over-estimating the lift of chemotherapy. Despite this statistical confer a favor on of the doubt, the study determined that overall  chemotherapy mum contributed to a mere 2 percent improved survival in cancer patients (then compared to the absolute total number of subjects).

Yet defiance the mounting evidence of chemotherapy’s destitution of effectiveness in prolonging survival, oncologists perpetuate to present chemotherapy as a rational and promising approach to cancer treatment.

One of the papers examined in the meta-analytics referenced above was from 1998. In this clinical struggle, out of a total of 10,661 women who were newly diagnosed by breast cancer, 4,638 women were assessed at the same time that eligible for chemotherapy. Of these 4,638 women, solely 164 (3.5 percent) actually gained some survival benefit from chemotherapy. As the authors station out, even the use of newer chemotherapy regimens in opposition to breast cancer, including the taxanes and anthracyclines, may excepting that raise survival by an estimated supplemental one percent. However, this minor be useful to is achieved at the expense of ~y increased risk of cardiac toxicity and power damage.

Woah … those are some pretty heavy statements! What credentials perform the authors of this paper possess in order to make these types of judgements? Well, wholly three of the paper’s authors are oncologists. Lead former & Associate Professor Graeme Morgan is a radiation oncologist at Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney; Professor Robyn Ward is a therapeutical oncologist at University of New South Wales/St. Vincent’s Hospital. The third author, Dr. Michael Barton, is a radiation oncologist and a member of the Collaboration in spite of Cancer Outcomes Research and Evaluation, Liverpool Health Service, Sydney. It should too be noted that Prof. Ward is also a member of the Therapeutic Goods Authority of the Australian Federal Department of Health and Aging. This is the officer body that advises the Australian conduct on the suitability and efficacy of drugs to have ~ing listed on the national Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule (PBS). It is roughly the equipollent of the US Food and Drug Administration. These men are scarcely lightweights in the field of cancer inquiry.

Given education about statistics painting this mould of treatment as achieving only a two percent improvement in survival rates, would the indefinite public opt for chemotherapy as a rational advance to cancer treatment? Shouldn’t we at minutest be given accurate information so while to make decisions which are rational and incident based?

A Third Method of Manipulation: Selective Publication

The third, and in many respects most un-nerving, tendency of action that drug data is manipulated to swell benefits is the selective publishing of studies to exhibition a majority of positive results. If the results are not stubborn, or if they show significant sideeffects that should be kept meek, they are simply not published!

Consider the following findings. Researchers reported the findings of a meta-calculus in the New England Journal of Medicine. They conducted each analytical look at all the act done on antidepressants, both published and unpublished.

To set in operation with, the unpublished studies were highly difficult to find. The researchers needed to hunt the FDA databases, call other researchers and search down hidden data under the Freedom of Information Act. What they eventually lay the ~ation of was stunning.

After examining 74 studies relating to 12 drugs and involving upward of 12,000 people, they found that 37 of 38 trials by positive results were published. That is highly nearly all of them. Only 14 of the 36 negative studies were published or in other language, less than 40%. Those negative tools and materials which did get published were, in the talk of the investigators, “…published in a advance that conveyed a positive outcome.”

That foliage no question. The results were twisted to divulge the drugs to be more powerful than they actually were!

As a closing comment, if we could describe the behaviours of the pharmaceutical results in one word it would have ~ing “shameless!!” We are being sold a lie to the harmony of billions of dollars a year, a great deal of of it coming out of everyone’s pockets in the configuration of insurance premiums and taxes. Though this critical instant talks specifically about cholesterol, chemotherapy agents, and antidepressant medications, it is fair that these practices are also undistinguished in the dealings of the put ~s into industry at large.

Feeling cheated? You should be …

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