Ben Goldacre on Bad Pharma

Is it a problem that many prescription drugs are deemed effective based on research studies funded by their own makers?

As TEDMED 2012 speaker Ben Goldacre charges in his new book, Bad Pharma, the ramifications of this practice could be very bad indeed. Many drug studies are poorly designed or weighted toward producing specific results, he says. Plus, thanks to positive bias in reporting research results, few studies that show little benefit or harmful side effects see the light of publishing — if the drug companies even release these results.

As Goldacre says in his book, “When trials throw up results that companies don’t like, they are perfectly entitled to hide them from doctors and patients, so we only ever see a distorted picture of any drug’s true effects.”

Bad Pharma lists five drugs in particular in which published data doesn’t show the full picture of efficacy and side effects, Goldacre says: Reboxetine, lorcainide, rosiglitazone, oseltamvir (Tamiflu), and paroxetine. Read more about them, and about Goldacre’s book, on the TED Blog, and watch his alarming — yet amusing — talk at TEDMED 2012, below.