It is no secret that medical journals are greatly reliant on the income from adverts that are placed in them by pharmaceutical companies. Their dependence on such advertising has the predictable effect of ensuring that criticism of the drug industry is minimized, or even eliminated, lest this lucrative source of funding is withdrawn. A rare exception occurred in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) recently, one of the world’s most widely read medical journals, when it published an opinion article declaring that evidence based medicine has been corrupted by corporate interests, failed regulation, and the commercialization of academia.
As the BMJ authors admit in the article, medicine today has become largely dominated by a small number of very large pharmaceutical companies that, while competing for individual market share, are effectively united in their efforts to expand the global drug market. Instead of primarily benefitting patients, the authors say financial interests now trump the common good. Significantly, these observations chime with much of what Dr. Rath and our organization have been saying for more than two decades now.
As the article also correctly points out, scientific progress in medicine is being thwarted by the ownership of data and knowledge (patents) because the drug industry suppresses negative trial results, fails to report adverse events, and does not share raw data with the academic research community. In many cases, as we have pointed out previously, this means that the results of drug trials are essentially rigged.
The BMJ authors further describe how patients are dying because of the adverse impact of commercial interests on the research agenda, universities, and regulators. They also correctly identify that the pharmaceutical industry’s responsibility to its shareholders means that product loyalty and public relations propaganda are prioritized over scientific integrity.
The capture of academia by drug companies receives particularly strong criticism, with the authors explaining that universities now actively seek pharmaceutical funding on commercial terms. As a result of this, the authors say, university departments have become instruments of the drug industry, with trials conducted by pharmaceutical companies being mostly reported in the names of senior academics. Through drug company control of the research agenda and the ghostwriting of medical journal articles, many academics essentially function as agents for the promotion of pharmaceutical products.
While the BMJ authors outline their proposed solutions for drug industry reform, their ideas fail to address the central problem as they essentially make the mistake of assuming that pharmaceutical medicine is capable of eradicating diseases. In reality, however, preventing the development of chronic diseases isn’t in the financial interests of the pharmaceutical industry. To the contrary, in fact, maintaining and expanding diseases is a precondition for the industry’s financial growth. This explains not only why most prescription drugs marketed today have no proven efficacy and merely target symptoms, but also why, through addressing the primary cause of diseases, science-based natural health therapies represent an existential threat to the pharmaceutical industry. It also suggests why issues of the BMJ fail to give an equal amount of space to natural approaches.
Readers with good memories will recall that Dr. Rath has previously taken up this matter directly with the BMJ and its then editor, Fiona Godlee. After the BMJ published false allegations about Dr. Rath in 2006 and was forced to retract them, as well as make a public apology and pay damages for the harm it had caused, Dr. Rath wrote to Ms. Godlee to suggest a new way forward in which it would pledge to give an equal amount of space to scientific and medical reports from the field of micronutrient research. Since then, however, the BMJ has failed to even come close to achieving this.
As such, while it is undoubtedly a step forward for the BMJ to publish an article admitting that the pharmaceutical industry has corrupted the practice of medicine, by itself this is not nearly enough. Until such time as the BMJ gives due recognition to the growing field of science-based micronutrient research, the reality is that pharmaceutical interests will continue to trump the common good. Patients, their families, and doctors all surely deserve better.