Education or advertising…?

Many thanks to Dr Carlat and his new Carlat Psychiatry Blog for this piece – in fact you may remember it was Dr Carlat who wrote an excellent op-ed piece in the New York Times recently about Continuing Medical Education (CME).

It seems Glaxo is up to its old tricks again – being VERY selective with the data they use to argue their case and in fact ignoring and burying the negative data. Read on:

GlaxoSmithKline just released a web-based CME slide show entitled, “Improving Outcomes in Patients with Bipolar Disorder: Exploring the Distinction Between Efficacy and Effectiveness,” which you can view here.

Terence Ketter of Stanford gives the talk, but all the content was created by medical writers paid by GSK (via an educational grant to that well-known academic institution, The Center for Medical Knowledge, LLC).

Download their slides and peruse them.

Beginning on page 21 of the workbook, there are some slides focusing on treatment of bipolar disorder. A total of three studies are highlighted: #1: An unpublished study showing that Lamictal resulted in longer recovery in bipolar disorder than atypical antipsychotics; #2: A NEJM study showing that adding an antidepressant to a mood stabilizer doesn’t help in bipolar depression; and #3: A small published study showing a numerical (but not statistically significant) advantage of Lamictal over inositol and Risperdal in recovery from bipolar depression.

That’s it, people: three studies, that’s all we get. And each study endorses the value of Lamictal, directly or indirectly.

Unmentioned, of course, is the fact that Lamictal has been tested for bipolar depression in eight studies, and that it failed to separate from placebo in seven of them.

The seven negative studies have never been published, but the results are available to the diligent by searching through GSK’s clinical trials register here.

You can read Dr Carlat’s full article here.


3 Responses to “Education or advertising…?”

  1. Matthew Holford Says:

    You know, I was really confused by the word “published”. Being of a legal bent, I understand “published” as being anything that is not kept to oneself – this comment would be a publication, for example. However, “published” in the medical context, means “published in a peer-reviewed journal.”

    As such, “not published” means something different to “suppressed.”


  2. Matthew Holford Says:

    Or withheld.


  3. truthman30 Says:

    This is common practice for pharmaceutical companies…
    Suppress negative studies …
    Promote biased ones funded by the company and endorsed by pharma paid “opinion” leaders….

    Case in point : Study 329 ….

    Pharma uses the mask of education to advertise its drugs…

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