Here's what happens when you let the drug companies run their own research: You get what they pay for.
And they're not paying for naysayers.
A new study finds signs of bias all over the research used by the feds to approve the cholesterol med Crestor for millions of healthy people with normal cholesterol levels. The study, called JUPITER, found that the drug might help lower the risk of heart problems in people with elevated levels of the inflammation marker C-reactive protein (CRP). (Read "Statins aimed at healthy people.")
But a new analysis finds that JUPITER--which was paid for by Crestor's maker, AstraZeneca--had so many problems and was so inconsistent that it shouldn't have been used to change any of the guidelines for the use of the med.
For example, nine of the 14 researchers behind the JUPITER study had financial ties to the AstraZeneca, according to the new analysis in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
And that's not even the biggest conflict.
The researchers also note that the study involved the use of a new test to measure levels of CRP--a test that millions of healthy Americans can now expect to receive at their own doctors' offices now that Crestor has been approved for them.
Well, it just so happens that this test was created by the lead author of the JUPITER study, who is also a co-holder of the patent for it. That means he could soon enjoy a statin side effect that the rest of us can only envy: What to do with all the extra money that will be coming in.
If that's not a conflict I don't know what is. Even he admits it is--but seems to think it's OK because everyone knows about it.
"My conflict has been publicly disclosed literally hundreds of times going as far back as 1997," Dr. Paul Ridker said in an email to Bloomberg News. "There is nothing new here."
Maybe it's not new. But it's certainly relevant. So are some of the other dirty details--like the decision to pull the plug on this study after just two years, when it was supposed to run for five years.
Why the hurry?
Take a guess--because no one else has a better answer than you do. The researchers behind the new analysis said that inconsistencies in the data "should have led to the continuation of the trial rather than its premature ending."
But you know Big Pharma. They love a happy ending--and they cut the study off as soon as they got one.
If you take these meds, however, you could be anything but happy: Statin side effects including debilitating muscle pain, liver and kidney problems and cataracts.
All for a med that has never been proven to extend a single life.