JAMA and a Tale of Perverted Science

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Reading Time: 3 minutes
Escitalopram 10mg Tablets (Lexapro brand)

Doctor Jonathan Leo’s story is riveting:

  • Research published in the JAMA conluded that all stroke victims should be prescribed anti-depressants
  • However the researchers failed to point out that the drug under investigation, Escitalopram, worked no better than problem-solving psychotherapy.
  • Furthermore, one of the authors of the paper failed to point out that he had a conflict of interest owing to past work he’d done for the makers of Escitalopram. This info, by the way, was available via a simple Google query.

To make a long story short, after Dr. Leo flagged the issue to JAMA and gave them every opportunity to clarify the matter, he published a letter about it in the British Medical Journal. The letter put no blame on JAMA but instead focused on the troubling nature of such a COI.

Our letter was published without any negative commentary regarding JAMA itself, and included the following statement: “We are fully aware that JAMA is concerned about conflicts of interest and has taken a leading role in promoting policies to benefit the medical community. We are pleased to report that we learned at the end of business on Thursday (3/5/09) that the JAMA Editorial Staff has looked into this matter and will be discussing it in the forthcoming March 11 issue.

JAMA lost it. Although they could not point to any factual inaccuracies, Leo was asked to retract the letter. When he refused, they pressured him through his dean. Reportedly, the JAMA told him he was “banned for life” and that he, his students, and his school would be sorry.

They are now instituting a gag rule preventing anyone from publishing info about COI’s in their articles. Not that they have the power to enforce the rule except, of course, for limiting access to one of the most prestigious medical journal in America.

It is worth reading his story in full.

And now for the rant:
Forgive me while I go off on a tangent.

I am appreciative of the good work that the likes of Hitchens and Dawkins do to bring reason to the masses and to point out the potential of religious institutions for hypocrisy and manipulation. But science is so rife with hypocrisy that it strikes me we would be better served by cleaning house and focusing attention on our own wayward high priests.

There could be no better place to start than with the “science” funded by Big Pharma. The quality of research and the cherry picking of results which goes into the gospel selling everything from anti-depressants to statins is truly appalling. And for the holy grail of science “the peer reviewed article” to be hijacked in the way that JAMA has just done, is, in my opinion, a complete erosion of the high ground science claims for itself.

Is there really any difference between one person refusing meds because it will attract body thetans and another taking meds because of media hype over the latest cooked study? In both cases it’s misplaced faith in a flawed authority.

It’s time for the good priests to take the bad ones to task.



  • NYT March 10, 2009:
    Doctor’s Pain Studies Were Fabricated, Hospital Says
    The researcher, Dr. Scott S. Reuben, an anesthesiologist in Springfield, Mass., who practiced at Baystate Medical Center, fabricated data in some or all of the 21 journal articles dating from at least 1996… The drug giant Pfizer underwrote much of Dr. Reuben’s research from 2002 to 2007