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February 13, 2008

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The director of the Institute for the Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Dr. Howard Brody, M.D., Ph.D., added a spirited commentary today on the aggressive management of blood sugars (ACCORD trial) and cholesterol (ENHANCE trial), statins and other issues as discussed here at JFS.

When the ACCORD trial of tight control of blood sugars in type 2 diabetics was stopped because of excessive deaths, he had been contacted by a reporter for his comment. He writes:

Science by Press Release? More Evidence of Commercial Control of Research

... I gave the poor guy an earful about how the lack of benefit of tight control in preventing vascular complications of Type II diabetes had been amply proven in the past, so that at least the lack-of-benefit part, if not the actual added-harm part, was no surprise. (And it was very odd that the so-called national experts on diabetes, when interviewed by the media, acted like it was.) The major study to show the lack of benefit of tight control for preventing major diabetes complications was the United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) which followed a large group of diabetic patients (Type II, remember) for 10 years and is probably the largest-scale study of Type II diabetes outcomes that will be done in my lifetime, at any rate.

Part Two: The intrepid reporter e-mailed me earlier today to ask whether I had altered my opinion, in light of a press release he had received...

The reporter was getting ready to report on an unpublished study (with favorable findings) from a press release he’d been given by an international medical research institute.

The rest of the article is priceless reading, giving another example of what goes on behind the scenes when research news is created via press releases, using gullible reporters, before studies are even completed. After being given the press release spin, Dr. Brody sent an email back to the reporter with his comments, along with some curious conflicts of interests from the study’s funding sources — you won’t want to miss what he said!

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