If it seems like our major medical guidelines were written by the drug industry, it's because they practically were.
Your own doctor probably uses these guidelines to make treatment decisions every day--but a new study shows they weren't written by impartial experts using only the best science.
They were written by drug industry stooges with a vested interest in protecting Big Pharma's bottom line.
Researchers looked at 17 major guidelines produced by the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology between 2003 and 2008, and found that 56 percent of the 498 people who helped write them had conflicts of interest.
That's enough to stack every deck along the way--but believe it or not, it gets worse from there. The researchers say 81 percent of those who led the groups that wrote the guidelines had a personal financial stake in the very companies that would be impacted by their decisions.
One expert put it best in the New York Times: "The guy who's calling balls and strikes should not be a shareholder in one of the teams," Dr. David J. Rothman, a professor and president of the Institute on Medicine as a Profession at Columbia University, told the newspaper.
"It's so self-evident that if you're going to be doing guidelines, it should be clean. What's amazing is that it hasn't been accomplished yet," he said.
Amazing, perhaps--but it's been this way for years, and the guideline writers aren't the only ones under the influence of Big Pharma's cash and prizes: Both the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology themselves have collected millions of dollars from the biggest names in the drug industry.
The AHA took in more than $30 million in 2006-2007 alone from drug companies and the makers of medical devices... and it appears that the group has a history of not being forthcoming about those financial links.
In 2000, the AHA backed a Genentech drug called alteplase, claiming it would save lives if given to stroke patients... but never mentioned the $11 million it had collected from Genentech over the previous decade.
The AHA withdrew its support for the drug when BMJ exposed that relationship... but the organization didn't learn its lesson.
When a major study found in 2008 that the expensive combo drug Vytorin worked no better than the cheaper Zocor, the AHA rushed to the defense-- dismissing the study and urging patients to keep taking their Vytorin.
They didn't mention the $2 million a year the AHA had been receiving from Vytorin's makers.
The American College of Cardiology released a similar statement in favor of Vytorin... also while taking in money from the drug's makers.