Friday, July 15, 2011

What's wrong with this picture?

If it's the picture of the corrupting influence of drug and device companies on medical research and publishing, a lot.* ProPublica reports** on the case of Infuse, which is the subject of an entire issue of The Spine Journal:
According to the journal, the doctors engaged in industry-funded studies of Infuse downplayed its risks and some had staggering financial ties to Medtronic [2] that weren't adequately disclosed in their published research.
ProPublica has been doing a series, Dollars for Docs, "tracking how money from the drug and device industry has pervaded the medical field and influenced the decisions that doctors make both in the clinical setting and in research" and providing resources. As the Spine Journal editorial*** explains:
The core of our professional to first do not harm. It harms patients to have biased and corrupted research published. It harms patients to have unaccountable special interests permeate medical research. It harms patients when poor publication practices become business as usual.
If we're talking about another, literal (also health-related), picture, the answer is also a lot. This was the image that illustrated a History of Vaccines Blog post about the Pacific Health Summit held in Seattle last month:

What on earth?

*A problem in other realms as well, of course.

**Also recommended: the ProPublica/Frontline report "Post Mortem."

***One of the authors is David Rothman, director of the Institute on Medicine as a Profession.

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