Ben Goldacre, the author of Bad Science, has turned his eye toward the world of medicine, and in Feb. 2013 will publish Bad Pharma. What pointed him in that direction? One factor he notes in a Q&A with The Economist, is this:
“For me, the key point is missing data. Doctors and patients need as much data as possible to make an informed decision about what treatment is best. The dodgy marketing—to be honest, I could let that lie. It is not good form for doctors to see pharmaceutical sales reps, and we know that it affects their clinical decision-making. Still, as an individual doctor I canchoose not to see them. When the results of clinical trials are withheld, the well is poisoned for everyone. No doctor can work around missing information.
“This is a huge issue, for a huge number of drugs. We know—because people have done the research—that, overall, about half of all the trials that are conducted and completed never get published. We know that trials with positive reults are about twice as likely to be published as those with negative ones. We know that this is an ongoing problem, and we know that everything that’s been tried to fix it has failed.”