The blog of Xeno, a slightly mad scientist
… A recent article in Forbes Magazine1 highlights how medical guidelines based on questionable science may have resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of patients in just a few years:
“Last summer, British researchers provoked concern when they published a paper raising the possibility that by following an established guideline UK doctors may have caused as many as 10,000 deaths each year,2” Larry Husten, editorial director of WebMD professional news, writes.
“Now, they have gone a step further and published an estimate that the same guideline may have led to the deaths of as many as 800,000 people in Europe over the last five years3…
The 800,000 deaths are comparable in size to the worst cases of genocide and mass murder in recent history.”
Guideline Based on Discredited Research May Have Caused 800,000 Deaths
The paper, originally published in the online version of the European Heart Journal,4 is a testament to the dangers of modern medicine, and why scientific rigor needs to be reestablished as the norm. As I’ve discussed before, scientific misconduct by medical researchers affects real people, living real lives. It could affect you.
When flawed research is used as the basis for medical guidelines, people that shouldn’t die do… All in the name of increasing profits to the drug company with reckless abandon and little to no concern for the casualties.
The issue goes back to research done by Don Poldermans,5 a cardiovascular researcher in the Netherlands, who was fired for scientific misconduct in 2011. Some of the strongest evidence for the European Society of Cardiology’s (ESC) guidelines on beta-blocker use in patients undergoing non-cardiac surgery came from Poldermans’ DECREASE trial.
It’s well worth noting that Poldermans was also the chairman of the committee that drafted the guideline (he has since resigned from his position with the task force6). While his DECREASE trial has not as of yet been retracted, the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam stated7 he was fired because he was:
“…careless in collecting the data for his research. In one study, it was found that he used patient data without written permission, used fictitious data and that two reports were submitted to conferences which included knowingly unreliable data.”
You would think that once this was known, immediate action would result. However, it took two years before the ESC withdrew the beta-blocker recommendation once the Poldermans scandal had unraveled. This is absolutely scandalous as nearly a half of a million people died unnecessarily due to the delay.
In that two-year span, many European clinicians may have felt that their hands were tied, as failing to follow guidelines can lead to being penalized—even if the doctor knows the guidelines are likely to do more harm than good. As reported by Forbes:8
“They note that more than half of the lives lost—potentially more than 400,000—may ‘have occurred after the research was discredited,’ though some of the damage may have been mitigated if doctors changed their practice after reading about the controversy…
Cole and Francis argue that much needs to be changed in the application of medical research: ‘The aviation profession has led the way in systems to prevent, recognize, study, and learn from professional failures. Clinical medicine is now following the same path. We must develop similar systems for research.'”
This is for the person who left the comment that the business of America has always been business and there is nothing wrong with that. This article is about the EU, but the point is the same.
The only way to win this seems to me to be to convince other businesses that they lost massive profits when those dead 800,000 people could no longer shop.