Drug Ads Bias Medical Journals Against Vitamins

  • 8 Feb 2009
  • Reading time 2 mins
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Pharmaceutical money buys journal influence, says new study. “In major medical journals, more pharmaceutical advertising is associated with publishing fewer articles about dietary supplements.” They also found that more pharmaceutical company advertising resulted in the journal having more articles with “negative conclusions about dietary supplement safety.” The results were statistically significant.

Most medical journals are substantially supported by pharmaceutical companies. This new study, the first of its kind, specifically compared the amount of pharmaceutical advertising in a journal with the amount, and kind, of coverage concerning studies on dietary supplements, reviewing one year of the issues of 11 major medical journals. What they found was that “journals with the most pharmads published significantly fewer major articles about dietary supplements per issue than journals with the fewest pharmads” and that this association was statistically significant (p<0.01).They also found that “journals with the most pharmads published no clinical trials or cohort studies about supplements. The percentage of major articles concluding that supplements were unsafe was 4% in journals with fewest and 67% among those with the most pharmads (P = 0.02).” The authors concluded that "the impact of advertising on publications" is real, and said that "the ultimate impact of this bias on professional guidelines, health care, and health policy is a matter of great public concern."

The fact is that it is immensely difficult to a) get funding for trials on any research involving nutritional medicine and b) extremely difficult to get it published. According to Dr Bo Jonsson, MD, PhD, of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, comments that "Positive reports about the effects of high-dose vitamins have long been ignored by the medical establishment instead of being further examined scientifically."

As a consequence, when patients ask their doctors about nutritional supplements the doctor often says "I've never seen any studies supporting the safety or efficacy of vitamin supplements in my professional journals. The research is simply not there."

While there are journals that do publish research on nutritional medicine and high-dose supplements, such as the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine and the Journal of Nutrition Medicine, neither have been allowed inclusion into Medline, the most popular search engine for researchers, despite being peer-review journals.

This is one of the ways in which the pharmaceutical industry influence and control information. If you’d like to get the whole picture, and really see how potent nutritional therapy is for today’s common diseases read Food Is Better Medicine Than Drugs

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