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.

Five TEDMED 2012 speakers announced today

Five new folks are joining our stellar lineup for this April. They are:

Frances Arnold
Dick and Barbara Dickinson Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry, California Institute of Technology
Why should we engineer for uncertainty?

Elizabeth Bonker and Virginia Breen

Elizabeth Bonker with Virginia Breen
Author, Poet, Aspiring Doctor
When you finally find your voice, what do you most want to say?

Ivan Oransky
Executive Editor of Reuters Health
Is the “disease model” sick – or just exhausted?

Seth Cooper
Creative Director, Center for Game Science, University of Washington
Why is my joystick smarter than your stethoscope?


Ben Goldacre
Best-selling author, broadcaster
Where’s the rest of the data iceberg?

More to come soon!