Surprise, surprise: a scientific study of scientific studies finds that most are crap! But what if the study that found that most studies are shabby is also shabby and unreliable? (just kidding…)
Thing is, we already knew this, didn’t we? I’ve ben saying for nearly forty years that so-called clinical trials are just marketing in disguise.
Still, it’s nice to find the industry is trying to do some of its own dirty washing.
What got me going? A new analysis of registered clinical trials finds that many are small and of poor quality.
Studies of cancer treatments, in particular, often fail to follow the highest standards of medical research, the analysis found, and a full 7% of studies didn’t even bother to mention what their purpose was (required by law), while others failed to provide many important details.
“We can see that we can do better,” said report author Dr. Robert Califf, in something of an understatement!
In the past, there would be a lot of studies done, but many would never be studied or reported anywhere. Sometimes you’d only see the ones that were positive. Now, the law has been strengthened and all trials are required, by law, here in the USA, to be registered. So trials can’t be swept under the carpet when they don’t go the way the drug company wants it.
That means things are cleaner and more honest, right?
Not a bit of it. All it means is that drug companies hire ghost writers to dress up lousy results and make them look positive (by the simple expedient of lying and falsifying).
The new report says 62 percent of the trials from 2007-2010 were small, with 100 or fewer participants. Only 4 percent had more than 1,000 participants.
Ideally, medical studies compare randomly chosen groups of people to each other, with one group getting a treatment and the other getting another treatment or an inactive placebo. However, 65 percent of cancer studies didn’t randomize their participants, compared to 26 percent of cardiovascular studies.
One expert agreed that the quality of medical research in the United States is lacking.
That’s odd because what happens here is that doctors won’t believe anything that was tested scientifically overseas. The attitude is: if we didn’t discover it ourselves, then it’s bunk.
The big problem with crummy studies is that the medical world relies on research not only to determine whether new medications work but also to figure out guidelines for common medical procedures, like colonoscopies.
The report appears in the May 2, 2012, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.