Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Yet Another Attack On Industry

A new study has found that research financed by the food industry tends to deliver results favorable to that industry:

Of 24 studies of soft drinks, milk and juices financed by the industry, 21 had results favorable or neutral to the industry, and 3 were unfavorable, according to the research led by Dr. David S. Ludwig, director of the Optimal Weight for Life Program at Children’s Hospital Boston and an associate professor at the Harvard Medical School.
However, as Susan Neely of the American Beverage Association points out, the results are untrustworthy because the research was conducted by dirty fucking hippies who hate science:
"This is yet another attack on industry by activists who demonstrate their own biases in their review by looking only at the funding source and not judging the research on its merits," says a statement by Susan Neely, president of the American Beverage Association. "The science is what matters - nothing else."
Which just goes to show you that, as Pierre Bourdieu says in Science of Science and Reflexivity, "the definition of what is at stake in the scientific struggle is one of the things at stake in the scientific struggle.”

Neely's not being entirely fair, in that she fails to consider the possibility that these researchers are suffering from an acute psychosis that prevents them from conducting the sort of objective study favored by the members of the American Beverage Association.

If that's what's producing these skewed results, the researchers should probably be dosed with antipsychotics and made to start from scratch. Fortunately, the choice of medication is clear. Earlier this year, research funded by Eli Lilly showed that in five studies, its antipsychotic drug Zyprexa outperformed Janssen's Risperdal, while Jannsen-funded studies showed that Risperdal beat Zyprexa only three out of four times. Thus, unless Jannsen shells out for research that delivers more impressive results, Zyprexa will continue to be the drug of choice for treating Fallacious Activist Guile Syndrome (FAGS).

But even if Dr. Ludwig's study were accurate, the fact remains that 3 dissenting studies out of 24 represents a remarkable degree of scientific autonomy, and shows how far we've come since 2004:
Researchers have found that 100% of industry-sponsored studies recently presented at the annual scientific meeting of a medical professional society reported findings that support product use. The study, by Drs Thomas Finucane and Chad Boult (Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD), appears in the December 1, 2004 American Journal of Medicine.

"The overwhelming nature of this finding was a little surprising," Finucane told rheumawire. "But then again, it would be surprising if the results didn't favor the product. On reflection, it makes sense."

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