Use of Deceptive Statistics in the Vaccine and Pharmaceutical Literature
Flu Shots, Fosamax and Pharmaceutical Fakery
BY TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 20 November 2017
Gary G. Kohls, MD | Duty to Warn – TRANSCEND Media Service
For full article:The Common Use of Deceptive Statistics in the Vaccine and Pharmaceutical Literature
14 Nov 2017 – Several years ago there was a temporary media buzz generated by an October 2011 article in The Lancet Infectious Disease journal, which is a pro-vaccine, pro-pharmaceutical industry medical journal that is published in Britain. The article showed that flu vaccinations were far less effective than had been previously believed. In fact, the study suggested that the trivalent flu vaccine currently being pushed at that time approached worthlessness.
The article’s principle author was Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH, a widely published infectious disease researcher who, prior to his current faculty position at the University of Minnesota, had served in various capacities with the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), including a high-profile role as the MDH’s Chief of the Acute Disease Epidemiology Section. For 15 years of that association with the MDH Osterholm served as Minnesota state epidemiologist. Osterholm has published over 300 articles and is highly respected in his field.
The Disconnect Between Real, Unbiased Science and Profit-focused Corporate Propaganda
The Lancet study, in the reports that I listened to on NPR and read about in various print media reports, was deceptively reported as showing that the trivalent flu vaccines should still be regarded as “moderately effective” for flu prevention rather than being brought into question as the minimally effective vaccine that the article suggested. What could explain the disconnect between the science and the propaganda?
Seeing no sign of a public retraction from Osterholm or his co-authors about the glaring misperceptions, I began to wonder if they were even aware that they had stooped to the depths that so many other medical, psychiatric and pharmaceutical industry researchers have gone to when their articles are published in mainstream medical journals. Misleading statistics that have appeared in medical journals are also used in drug commercials and by drug sales representatives when they try to convince us physicians to prescribe their company’s synthetic drugs.
What I am talking about is the common statistical trick of the trade called the Relative Risk Reduction [RRR], a statistic that intentionally inflates embarrassingly low or even statistically insignificant results that had been obtained from dubious research studies.
What the public deserves to be informed about, but usually doesn’t receive, is the far more meaningful Absolute/Actual Risk Reduction [ARR] numbers, which, compared to the RRR, are often so small and unconvincing that any rational thinker would regard the study as a failed one. Hence, the cunning invention of the misleading RRR. I will deal with the important mathematical differences further below.
The Deceptive Relative Risk Reduction Statistic
A lot of medical research these days is done by academic scientists that may not be clinicians. The vast majority of these researchers, estimated to represent over 80% of the medical research that is currently being done, are in the employ of the for-profit drug and medical device industries. The research articles that list them as authors are frequently written by ghost-writers who are salaried by the corporations that designed and funded the study. And what should worry everybody is the fact that the self-interested corporations have exclusive control over how the research is utilized. Whoever pays the piper, calls the tune.
The researchers involved in such studies are naturally highly motivated to help rapidly get to market the products they are working on, with the additional hope that any positive results that they can generate will increase the value of any stock holdings that may be part of their compensation package. Additional contracts with the pharmaceutical company will be more likely if negatives are not found. I hasten to add that there is nothing wrong with making money in an ethical and honest manner, but a lot of medical research intentionally overstates the positives of the products that are being marketed and minimizes, or even hides, the negatives of their new drugs, vaccines or medical devices.