I shouldn't be surprised at any sort of scam in any industry, really. With the destruction of the rule of law and the buying of our government the sort of behavior that we've seen by banksters is utterly common, such as what UBS did with screwball "bonds" that were in fact synthetic PUTs -- and a bad deal whether you knew what you were buying or not.
But when it comes to studies of various sorts, consider something simple -- the flip of a coin. You and I agree that we will study how coins fall when flipped. I tell you that I will run 100 studies on this.
You of course expect me to report something near 50 heads and 50 tails. But when you get the results you are astonished to find that I reported 100 "heads."
[Related -Delta Air Lines (DAL): Panic Selling Makes This Airline Stock Ripe For A Quick Pop]
You conclude that I am flipping a 2-headed coin, of course.
I'm only reporting the trials that come up heads, and ignoring those that come up "tails"!
Most people would call this fraud.
Drug companies appear to call this how we do business.
We'll do one more. In 2006, researchers looked into every trial of psychiatric drugs in four academic journals over a 10-year period, finding 542 trial outcomes in total. Industry sponsors got favorable outcomes for their own drug 78 percent of the time, while independently funded trials only gave a positive result in 48 percent of cases. If you were a competing drug put up against the sponsor's drug in a trial, you were in for a pretty rough ride: You would only win a measly 28 percent of the time.
[Related -Investing In The Time Of Ebola]
Now this sounds bad. But it's actually far worse than it sounds, because the outcome for a drug trial is not simply "does it help people or not." There is a third possibility: It might harm or even kill the person who takes it.
This is not an academic exercise -- it's real. The only way to know if something works when it comes to medical research is to test it, but in many cases the test results are not published. There is no legal requirement that all such trials be made public or that prior art -- and the results of such tests -- be disclosed.
So what happens? You get screwed.
The worst part of it is that this sort of harm is not limited to you, particularly when it comes to medications that bear not on a physical ailment but a psychiatric one. When someone goes nuts their behavior can impact others, and sometimes in dramatic and horrifying ways.
Like, for instance, in Aurora. Or, for that matter, perhaps at Sandy Hook.
Never mind the people who think they're taking a drug to treat or prevent some disease and wind up with either a drug that doesn't work, or worse, one that injures or kills them. That happens fairly frequently.
We call it practicing medicine for a reason; there is no guarantee of success. You are the one being practiced upon, to put not-to-fine a point on it!
But we, the people, should tolerate nothing less than all the data. Burying information that is unflattering to a particular compound or company, if harm later is detected that could have been avoided if that data had been published, should be defined as what it is: Criminal assault and fraud, with both personal and corporate liability for everyone involved.
We'll never get to the truth of what works and what doesn't -- and what the risks are associated with what works -- until and unless we make this change.
If President Obama, Herr Biden and the rest are seriously interested in advancing public health, especially mental health, this is one change that could be made and would pay real dividends -- and where the "costs" would all be in the form of putting a stop to ill-gotten gains that were in fact garnered by screwing people.
If you want to do something "for the children", this is it.