Friday, June 01, 2007

Shooting the Messenger

Health Care Renewal has taken the wind from my sails with an excellent post on the Wall Street Journal editorial from Scott Gottlieb (from the American Enterprise and formerly the FDA). If you've been living under a rock lately, you might have missed the controversy stirred up when an analysis by Steve Nissen and Kathy Wolski indicated that GSK's drug Avandia increases heart attack risk by about 40% (video here).

Not everyone has been impressed with Nissen and Wolski's findings. Some have pointed to potential conflicts of interest, but nobody has really done much to challenge their findings. Nissen has defended himself against charges of his detractors.

The WSJ: Unsurprisingly, the Wall Street Journal ran an editorial blasting Nissen's findings. Who better to write such a piece than Scott Gottlieb of the American Enterprise Institute? Scott's discussion of the study consisted of irrelevant discussion, vague and unsubstantiated attacks on the study findings, and stating the following regarding the New England Journal of Medicine (among other journals), which published the latest study...
There is a problem when some journals let antipathy for business interests and left-leaning views interfere with the medical decisions that they make, bending standards or stepping outside their mandate, using their prestige and influence in ways that distort medical facts in the aim of influencing political outcomes.
This would be fine if Dr. Gottlieb had bothered to point out how the "medical facts" were distorted in this case. But he didn't. It is an attack that completely misses the point. And if Nissen is being accused of having conflicted interests, his conflicts appear to pale in comparison to those of Gottlieb.

See Health Care Renewal for an extensive discussion as well as AHRP. I know I'm really late to the game on Avandia and I'll refer interested readers to a plethora of postings on PharmaGossip and Pharmalot if you want to catch up.

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