Saturday, February 11, 2006

Era of Patent Medicines Not Over: Unpublished Data Might Justify Flu Shot Requirement, Pediatrician Says

A Cochrane review of routine flu shots for infants – which found inadequate evidence for the official recommendation by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics to give flu shots to 6-to-23-month-olds – was attacked in an interesting Washington Post story.

As is usual nowadays, “experts” seized on minimal differences in current therapy from past therapy used in trials. John Bradley, a member of the American Academicy of Pediatrics committee on infectious diseases said the quality of vaccines might vary. [The hormone people are taking the same tack after the negative results of the Women’s Health Initiative on estrogen replacement, saying some other, untested, formulation is likely better.]

Even more disturbingly, Dr. Bradley, director of infectious disease at Children’s Hospital in San Diego, said that the review “fails to account for the fact that much of the efficacy data of vaccines is gathered by drug companies that may choose for business reasons not to publish their findings.” This was a jaw-dropping statement. Isn’t the very essence of a “patent medicine” accepting the word of the company that manufactures it that the substance is medically beneficial?

Doctors and patients should not tolerate this sort of nonsense. According to the article, the Cochrane Review of published studies on children under age 2 found flu shots using killed virus (the recommended sort) no more effective than placebo. If published studies are to be trumped by business-owned unpublished studies that may or may not exist and may or may not be valid, corporations may profit but science - and people - will lose.

1 comment:

Martin said...

I think it should become a rule that reporters need to always do a PubMed search on doctors they are quoting. Re: John Bradley's potential conflicts of interest in a recent journal article (Talbot, et al. Bad bugs need drugs: an update on the development pipeline from the Antimicrobial Availability Task Force of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Clin Infect Dis. 2006 Mar 1;42(5):657-68) J.B. provides his stipend and research support to Children's Hospital San Diego and affiliates for general Infectious Diseases Division support; serves on the advisory boards of Actelion, Astra-Zeneca, Elan, and Johnson & Johnson; and receives research support from Astra-Zeneca, Elan, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, and Novartis

Can you say many vaccine manufacturers in that list? Particularly Novartis (and implicitly Chiron).