Aubrey Blumsohn, Tenacious but Wrong

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  • 01/24/2008
Aubrey Blumsohn who runs the scientific misconduct blog attacked us recently and I am trying to figure out why.

Dr. Blumsohn is a researcher who, according to a report by NPR (a known front for Big Pharma), did not like the statistical analysis of the study he did for Proctor and Gamble. Blumsohn found out that 40 percent of the data was tossed out and was not happy, so he went public with the process.

The fact is, many researcher don't do their own analysis and rely on others to do the statistical analysis and select the statistical analysis and study design. This is changing and in many cases investigators do have control of the whole megillah. Indeed in many cases the drug or biotech companies themselves will rely on academics to take the lead. Blumsohn has presented the entire data set by the way though it has not been published as of yet.

I give Dr. Blumsohn credit for sticking to his guns with respect to the integrity of the data as he saw it. His university apparently wanted to give him cash to drop the whole matter and he told them no. You have to admire that sort of tenacity. We need more truth seeking everywhere. And everyone should post their clinical trials. Period.

But to suggest that because more of the clinical trials are funded by the private sector means more misconduct or a dearth of null studies is empirically wrong. The same goes for suggesting that receives pharma funding is corrupt and that only pharma funding is a source of conflict or that it always taints research outcomes. As a JAMA article on the subject noted: "Contrary to the often-voiced concern that major journals do not report null studies, we found that a substantial proportion of the cardiovascular trials published in JAMA, The Lancet, and the New England Journal of Medicine between 2000 and 2005 reported either no significant difference between therapies (34.6%) or a significant difference favoring SOC over newer treatments (6.8%). Furthermore, among trials funded solely by not-for-profit organizations, the proportion of trials not favoring innovation was 51.0% suggesting that, at least for these trials, evidence of publication bias is minimal."

But bias on the part of the scientific misconduct blogosphere does exist. It has constructed a conspiracy theory based on speculation, anecdotes and hubris.

The link to the NPR report, which Dr. Blumsohn seems not to have posted, is here:

It is a balanced account of what happened.

The bias of the blogosphere is showing.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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