Keep in mind the FDA is the Food & Drug Agency- It's not the Food and Drug Safety & Accountability Agency
Faked X-ray reports. Forged retinal scans. Phony lab tests. Secretly amputated limbs. All done in the name of science when researchers thought that nobody was watching.
That misconduct happens isn’t shocking. What is: When the FDA finds scientific fraud or misconduct, the agency doesn’t notify the public, the medical establishment, or even the scientific community that the results of a medical experiment are not to be trusted. On the contrary. For more than a decade, the FDA has shown a pattern of burying the details of misconduct. As a result, nobody ever finds out which data is bogus, which experiments are tainted, and which drugs might be on the market under false pretenses. The FDA has repeatedly hidden evidence of scientific fraud not just from the public, but also from its most trusted scientific advisers, even as they were deciding whether or not a new drug should be allowed on the market. Even a congressional panel investigating a case of fraud regarding a dangerous drug couldn't get forthright answers. For an agency devoted to protecting the public from bogus medical science, the FDA seems to be spending an awful lot of effort protecting the perpetrators of bogus science from the public.
We didn’t have to search very hard to find FDA burying evidence of research misconduct. Just look at any document related to an FDA inspection. As part of the new drug application process, or, more rarely, when the agency gets a tipoff of wrongdoing, the FDA sends a bunch of inspectors out to clinical sites to make sure that everything is done by the book. When there are problems, the FDA generates a lot of paperwork— (obfuscation) what are called form 483s, Establishment Inspection Reports, and in the worst cases, what are known as Warning Letters. If you manage to get your hands on these documents, you’ll see that, most of the time, key portions are redacted: information that describes what drug the researcher was studying, the name of the study, and precisely how the misconduct affected the quality of the data are all blacked out. These redactions make it all but impossible to figure out which study is tainted.(the FDA covers up for big pharma)
In only roughly 100 cases were we able to figure out which study, which drug, and which pharmaceutical company were involved. (We cracked a bunch of the redactions by cross-referencing the documents with clinical trials data, checking various other databases, and using carefully crafted Google searches.) For the other 500, the FDA was successfully able to shield the drugmaker (and the study sponsor) from public exposure.
It’s not just the public that’s in the dark. It’s researchers, too. And your doctor. As I describe in the current issue of JAMA Internal Medicine, my students and I were able to track down some 78 scientific publications resulting from a tainted study—a clinical trial in which FDA inspectors found significant problems with the conduct of the trial, up to and including fraud. In only three cases did we find any hint in the peer-reviewed literature of problems found by the FDA inspection. The other publications were not retracted, corrected, or highlighted in any way. In other words, the FDA knows about dozens of scientific papers floating about whose data are questionable—and has said nothing, leaving physicians and medical researchers completely unaware. The silence is unbroken even when the FDA itself seems shocked at the degree of fraud and misconduct in a clinical trial.
The Slate article cites one case as an example of this disgraceful malfeasance
Such was the case with the so-called RECORD 4 study. RECORD 4 was one of four large clinical trials that involved thousands of patients who were recruited at scores of clinical sites in more than a dozen countries around the world. The trial was used as evidence that a new anti-blood-clotting agent, rivaroxaban, was safe and effective. The FDA inspected or had access to external audits of 16 of the RECORD 4 sites. The trial was a fiasco. At Dr. Craig Loucks’ site in Colorado, the FDA found falsified data. At Dr. Ricardo Esquivel’s site in Mexico, there was “systematic discarding of medical records” that made it impossible to tell whether the study drug was given to the patients. At half of the sites that drew FDA scrutiny—eight out of 16—there was misconduct, fraud, fishy behavior, or other practices so objectionable that the data had to be thrown out. The problems were so bad and so widespread that, contrary to its usual practice, the FDA declared the entire study to be “unreliable.” Yet if you look in the medical journals, the results from RECORD 4 sit quietly in The Lancet without any hint in the literature about falsification, misconduct, or chaos behind the scenes. This means that physicians around the world are basing life-and-death medical decisions on a study that the FDA knows is simply not credible.
It’s not just one study, either. The FDA found major problems with sites involved in the other three clinical trials that were used to demonstrate rivaroxaban’s safety and effectiveness. RECORD 2, for example, was nearly as awful as RECORD 4: Four out of 10 sites that the FDA inspected showed evidence of misconduct, or other issues grave enough to render the site’s data worthless—including clear evidence of data falsification at one site. In aggregate, these problems raise serious doubts about the quality of all four key rivaroxaban studies—and, by extension, doubts about how seriously we should take the claim that rivaroxaban is safe and effective. The FDA is keeping mum, even as wrongful-death lawsuits begin to multiply.
The FDA’s failure to notify the public is not merely a sin of omission. In March 2009, the FDA convened a committee of outside scientific experts to mull the “robustness and meaningfulness” of the results from the four rivaroxaban trials, RECORDs 1, 2, 3, and 4. (The agency regularly calls in advisers to get advice, or, more cynically, to get cover, about a decision the agency has to make.) When the agency briefed the committee, it was (to put it mildly) coy about the problems it was finding. It said only that inspectors had found “significant issues” at two clinical sites involved in the RECORD 4 study—and that data from one of them was included in the analysis. Inspections were still ongoing, so it’s not easy to say precisely what the agency knew at that point, but it’s clear that the FDA wasn’t admitting to everything it knew. A bunch of inspections had been completed a month prior to the meeting, and we know for certain that the agency was fully aware of major issues beyond the two it revealed to the advisory committee. In a memo dated three days before the advisory committee meeting convened, the FDA detailed “falsification of data by a subinvestigator” at a RECORD 2 site. The advisory committee was not told.
By itself, this might seem like a miscommunication or an oversight, but the FDA has a history of not notifying the public about the misconduct it finds. About a decade ago, the agency got into trouble over a newly approved antibiotic, Ketek. Inspectors had found extensive problems (including fraud) affecting key clinical trials of the drug. Yet the agency did its best to hide the problems from even its most trusted advisers. As David Ross, the FDA official in charge of reviewing Ketek’s safety, put it, “In January 2003, over reviewers’ protests, FDA managers hid the evidence of fraud and misconduct from the advisory committee, which was fooled into voting for approval.” However, when the reports of misconduct at one clinical site began appearing in the press—along with stories of liver damage and blurred vision associated with the new drug—Congress stepped in, demanding information from the agency about the fraud.
This extensive article ends with these two paragraphs:
The sworn purpose of the FDA is to protect the public health, to assure us that all the drugs on the market are proven safe and effective by reputable scientific trials. Yet, over and over again, the agency has proven itself willing to keep scientists, doctors, and the public in the dark about incidents when those scientific trials turn out to be less than reputable. It does so not only by passive silence, but by active deception. And despite being called out numerous times over the years for its bad behavior, including from some very pissed-off members of Congress, the agency is stubbornly resistant to change. It’s a sign that the FDA is deeply captured, drawn firmly into the orbit of the pharmaceutical industry that it’s supposed to regulate. We can no longer hope that the situation will get better without firm action from the legislature.
The FDA wants you to take it on faith that its officials have the public’s best interest at heart. Justification through faith alone might be just fine as a religious doctrine, but it’s not a good foundation for ensuring the safety and effectiveness of our drugs. After all, the whole point of science-based medicine is to keep us from having to make a leap of faith every time we swallow a pill
When science becomes just another ism- you know we have troubles-
And we get scienceism in far too many instances this day and age
"Ism is a derived word used in philosophy, politics, religion or other areas pertaining to an ideology of some sort, sometimes with a derogatory sense"