Medicine is a science. Treatment decisions should be based upon
scientific evidence or “research.” That research is supposed to be
impartial, well controlled, and subject to the scrutiny of scientific
Typically, medical research studies are conducted by doctors at
university hospitals. Before results are published in research journals,
they are reviewed for flaws or inaccuracies. Some studies are sponsored by
drug companies and some are independently funded.
Even the most carefully planned research can, however, be misleading or
simply wrong. Two equally well-done studies may produce contradictory
results. One study may show that a treatment is good while another may
show that the same procedure is harmful.
Research studies, done by doctors who were paid by drug companies, were
recently scrutinized. Of 370 drug company-sponsored journal articles, 87
percent supported the sponsors’ advertising claims. Not a single drug
company study contradicted the advertising claims of the sponsor. By
contrast, thirty-seven percent of research papers, which were not paid for
by the drug companies, found that the drugs did not work. Unfortunately,
it is difficult to sort out if someone doing research is paid by a drug
company or has another conflict of interest.
Don’t believe everything you read, even if it’s called “research.” Use
common sense when you hear about something that seems too good to be true.