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September 24 2012

The drugs don't work: a modern medical scandal


The doctors prescribing the drugs don't know they don't do what they're meant to. Nor do their patients. The manufacturers know full well, but they're not telling.

Drugs are tested by the people who manufacture them, in poorly designed trials, on hopelessly small numbers of weird, unrepresentative patients, and analysed using techniques that are flawed by design, in such a way that they exaggerate the benefits of treatments. Unsurprisingly, these trials tend to produce results that favour the manufacturer. When trials throw up results that companies don't like, they are perfectly entitled to hide them from doctors and patients, so we only ever see a distorted picture of any drug's true effects.

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