First Do No Harm, by Nancy Murdoch

Safety and health are not the first priorities of either the pharmaceutical companies or their regulators. Nancy Murdoch did so well with her first guest post, “Follow the Science to Treatment,” that she’s been invited back.

“As to diseases, make a habit of two things to help, or at least, to do no harm.”


“Most people believe the medicines they take are safe and effective, that they have been tested properly and have passed stringent regulatory scrutiny.  Few people understand the extent to which pharmaceutical promotion undermines these assumptions.”  Thus reads the first sentence in a book recently published called The Illusion of Evidence-based Medicine by Jon Jureidini and Leemon McHenry.

While many books have been written on this subject, this comes at a time when pharmaceutical companies are in the sights of the public, and these authors have inside information that has been relatively unavailable before.  They became privy to much of the information because they served as consultants to a Los Angeles based law firm that often acts as counsel for those suing pharmaceutical companies because of severe or fatal reactions to drugs.  By deposition the authors had access to documents and emails which laid out the serious problems facing the pharmaceutical companies and their plans to cover it up.  Because of the damning nature of the contents, the documents were considered by the court to be important enough to be declassified and made available to the public. 

While the authors intended audience is generally lawyers and doctors due to its technical jargon, the revelations of the corruption should be of interest to the public in general, especially to those who take prescribed medication now or in the future.  After all, the United States is at ground zero for the corruption, with worldwide implications.

Evidence-based medicine, if it functions as it is designed, would be very successful in weeding out bad medications.  The trouble is that almost 90% of clinical trials are conducted by the pharmaceutical industry.  They design, conduct, and then report the trials, and according to author Leemon McHenry “there is cheating at every single level of the process”.  Not surprising, many of those involved in each process are paid tremendous amounts of money for the part they play in the corruption. 

And there are a number of co-conspirators within the corruption that allows the pharmaceutical industry to maintain the status quo.  The list includes universities, university professors (willing to sell their name and prestige), medical communication companies that use ghostwriters to write the medical literature, continuing educations programs, and marketing programs.  Then there is the government and the regulators who play a significant part in the charade.  Instead of regulatory agencies acting in the capacity of protecting the public, they consider the pharmaceutical companies to be their client and aim to serve them as efficiently as possible by getting the product to the marketplace quickly.

Medical journals are also involved in the corruption.  Once they were sacrosanct, revered for their allegiance to careful peer-reviewed science, but that often is no longer the case.  There’s so much money to be made from the reprints, open access fees and advertising by pharmaceuticals.  In fact, everyone is making out except the patient, who is often harmed because a physician relies on a fraudulent medical journal article that he or she believes to be above board.  Certainly the medical journal has not informed the physician regarding its corrupt activities, and many doctors are brainwashed at medical school to believe the pharmaceutical companies and medical journals are their friends.  Doctors are sometimes corrupt in their methods as well.

Polls have shown that pharmaceutical companies are regarded by the public as very untrustworthy, a well earned distinction as they have been fined, penalized and lost billions of dollars in courts for their malfeasance.   However, personal physicians are viewed as very trustworthy.  The public is apparently unaware of the influence the pharmaceutical companies have on their own doctor, and the strong collusion between the pharmaceutical industry and the medical establishment.  Even when truth comes to light and drugs are proven to be unsafe and ineffective, the medical community fails to act.

Because of the enormous sums of money involved in the pharmaceutical industry, failure is not an option.  Various methods are used to assure that products get to market, regardless of their worth or risk.  Common strategies include testing the trial drug against a treatment that is known to be inferior,   against a competitor drug using too low or too high of a dosage, or other nefarious means needed to assure success.  After 50 years of effort, the companies have managed to overcome every obstacle, and every step of approval has been corrupted to some extent.

Dismayed by what was discovered in the writing of this book, McHenry personally wants to avoid all pharmaceutical products, especially those made within the last 20 years, and encourages patients to do their own research before taking medications.   New drugs coming to market are more likely to have been through the carefully honed process of “no failure at any cost”.

One would think that the public would remember their former distrust of the industry in regard to Covid.  Instead the misconceptions, the lack of basic scientific knowledge, and absolute fear mongering by the media and government have turned many people into obedient sheep willing to do anything or take anything, regardless of its safety or efficacy, on the hope of life returning to some semblance of normalcy. 

It is impossible to believe that the drug companies have changed their cheating ways because of Covid.  There is no evidence that the pharmaceutical industry is interested in saving lives, but plenty to suggest that they have killed and maimed untold numbers with no remorse.

The Illusion of Evidence-Based Medicine, Published by Wakefield Press

Jon Jureidini, Professor of Psychiatry and Paediatrics, University of Adelaide, Australia

Leemon B. McHenry, Professor Emeritus in Philosophy at California State University, Northridge

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.