Commenting on tonight’s Panorama programme “Secrets of the Drug Trials” the editor in chief of the British Medical Journal, Fiona Godlee writes “Panorama’s account of GlaxoSmithKline’s successful attempts to market Seroxat for use in children, despite the fact that its own published trial found evidence of serious adverse effects and failed to show benefit, is fascinating but depressingly familiar. The Vioxx story, told last week (BMJ 20 January, p 120), appears to have all the same hallmarks, including the paying of opinion leaders and ghost writers to talk up a drug when the evidence can’t speak for itself.
But what about Doctors who don’t want to tow the Big Pharma line, or worse still, find themselves at odds with the medical establishment?
Take the case of the psychologist Lisa Blakemore Brown, a specialist in Autism, ADHD & Aspergers. Blakemore Brown has been involved on the “wrong side” of the debate about the psychiatric disorder Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSbP), maintaining that many parents have been falsely accused of injuring their children. There have been high-profile releases from jail of women such as Angela Canning. MSbP is a disorder in which an adult invents or deliberately creates a child’s illness to draw attention to themselves. She has challenged prominent doctors such as Sir Roy Meadow and Professor David Southall who, in her view, have promulgated a wholly inappropriate approach to scientific evidence. She has irritated pharmaceutical companies. But instead of debate Lisa has encountered its very opposite. The abuse of science goes right into the heart of a prominent professional body. Her colleagues have stood by in silence.
To learn more about this case, please go to Scientific Misconduct and read in detail what the celebrated whistleblower Dr. Aubrey Blumsohn and others have to say on this worrying case.
This is about the distortion of scientific debate, most particularly by powerful forces in medicine. It is about the way in which industry, professional bodies, government regulators and powerful individuals collude to prevent scientific debate and to victimize those asking difficult questions. It is about the way those entrusted with authority behave.