Top Medical Journal Takes on Big Pharma that "Cannot be Trusted' and is "Causing Harm"
A leading medical journal is launching a global campaign to separate medicine from big pharma, linking industry influence to the pelvic mesh scandal that injured hundreds of women.
The BMJ says doctors are being unduly influenced by industry-sponsored education events and industry-funded trials for major drugs.
Those trials cannot be trusted, the journal's editor and a team of global healthcare leaders write in a scathing editorial published on Wednesday.
The "endemic financial entanglement with industry is distorting the production and use of healthcare evidence, causing harm to individuals and waste for health systems", they write.
They are calling for governments to start funding independent trials of new drugs and medical devices, rather than relying on industry-funded studies. Sponsored research is more likely to find a favourable result compared to independent research, studies show.
Assistant Professor Ray Moynihan, a Bond University researcher studying the link between money and medicine, and is one of the leaders of The BMJ's campaign.
“When we want to decide on a medicine or a surgery, a lot of the evidence we used to inform that decision is biased," he says.
"It cannot be trusted. Because so much of that has been produced and funded by the manufacturers of those healthcare products."
Dr Moynihan points to the example of medical giant Johnson & Johnson, which sold pelvic mesh to thousands of Australian women. It knew the mesh could cause serious harm, but never properly warned women of the risks.
In the US, a court found the same company deliberately played down the dangers and oversold the benefits of opioids, stoking the addiction crisis that claims the lives of 130 Americans a day. The company plans to appeal in both cases.