What Can I Do?

Journalist | Patient | Doctor | Concerned Citizen | Researcher

shutterstock_144653342Bad science affects us all.

For those of us who have lost loved ones because of medical lies, the toll is personal and irreversible. Society has allowed a marketing monster to develop that lures us all to take more and more drugs. We are told these drugs will improve our health and make our lives pleasanter. But look around. That this is not what is happening.

We are not happier and healthier. We are heavier. We have lost our memories, our consciences, and our empathy. We are stressed and anxious. Many drugs we take are doing more harm than good. Prescription drugs, taken as prescribed, are the third or fourth leading cause of death in the OECD.

Nobody is protecting us from unsafe drugs — not the government regulators, not the drug manufacturers, not the medical researchers, not the journals that publish their work.

The system is broken. Restoring Study 329 provides clear evidence of this.

So how do we fix it?

If you are a journalist…

Pay attention to the issue of drug safety — it is one of the defining issues of our era.

Realize that there is a lot of misinformation out there. You need to be very careful to screen out the truth from marketing information disguised as credible research. Websites such as healthnewsreview.org and healthjournalism.org can help you learn how to read a research study and ask the right questions.

Be aware that you may be pressured in subtle ways to avoid this controversial subject.

Understand that drug safety is only one part of the regulators’ mandate. They are equally responsible for supporting the interests of industry, and the criteria for allowing new drugs are extremely permissive.

If you are a patient…

Speak up.

If you have any problems with your prescription, you need to tell your doctor. Do not let your doctor tell you that you are mistaken about a prescription problem if you know you are not.

Use these tools on RxISK.org to have a better conversation with your doctor:

Report suspected adverse drug effects to your country’s regulatory body (which you can easily do through RxISK.org for Canada, the UK, and the US).

If you are a doctor…

Be skeptical.

You may think, “My patients listen to Dr. Oz and Oprah, read tabloid articles and questionable Internet sites, but I rely on peer-reviewed studies.” But these studies may be no better than infomercials or the junk science your patients are finding.

Contact the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (aacap.org or @aacap), especially if you are a psychiatrist, or you work with children and teenagers. Tell them you want Study 329 retracted. Ask your colleagues to sign on with you.

Don’t let drug reps buy lunch for you and your staff, or give you handy supplies or free “classes.” If possible, don’t let them in the office at all. Treat any material they give you as an advertisement — even if it’s a medical journal reprint.

Listen to your patients. When you give them a prescription, follow up. Ask them directly if they have experienced any adverse effects that might be attributable to the prescription.

Be cautious in prescribing. Nobody ever died from the side effects of a medication they did not take, but thousands of people die every year from the adverse effects of prescriptions. Before you prescribe the latest “wonder drug,” consider using non-drug treatments or older drugs whose effects are better understood.

Report suspected adverse drug effects to your country’s regulatory body (which you can easily do through RxISK.org for Canada, the UK, and the US).

If you are a concerned citizen…

Make your voice heard.

Ask your local media to cover this story. Write a letter to the editor.

Tell your local government representative that you demand medical research that is founded on available, verifiable data. Here some sample tweets:

  • @mycongressman: #Study329 shows that scientists need raw data from published drug trials as a check on big pharma – who’s got my back?
  • @mysenator: Stop conflicts of interest in medical research — scientists can’t fact check without all the facts #Study329
  • @mymemberofparliament: #Study329 shows drug regulation is failing us — we need independent clinical trials, legitimate third-party scrutiny
  • @primeminister: liberate the data from clinical drug trials to prevent harm, correct misleading research — fix the broken system #Study329

Use social media to share this website and make as much noise as possible on #Study329.

If you are a researcher…

Demand scientific integrity through data based medicine.

Do not accept any claims unless they are based on fully accessible data. “Fully accessible” means that ALL facts collected by the researchers are available for scrutiny, not just summaries, tables, or explanations. The Restored Study 329 team was only able to discover the truth because it fought for years to access the Case Report Forms (CRFs) — the records of what subjects had actually said and done — and interpreted them very differently than the original research team.

Contact the journals in your field. Tell them to demand this kind of full data sharing as a condition of publishing any research.

Demand institutional integrity — don’t let your professional credentials be tarnished by bad science.

Helpful government links

If you are American:

To find your congressman: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

To find your senator: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?State=IL

Senate committee that handles mental health issues: http://www.help.senate.gov/about/issues/health

FDA Drug Safety Communications web page: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm199082.htm

If you are Canadian:

To find your member of provincial parliament (MPP): http://fyed.elections.on.ca/fyed/en/form_page_en.jsp

To find your member of federal parliament (MP): http://www.parl.gc.ca/Parlinfo/Compilations/HouseOfCommons/MemberByPostalCode.aspx?Menu=HOC

Mental Health Commission of Canada: http://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/

If you live in the UK:

To find your member of parliament/ representative in the House of Lords: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

For drug safety updates, visit the MHRA site: https://www.gov.uk/drug-safety-update

If you are Australian:

To find your member of federal parliament: http://apps.aec.gov.au/esearch/

To find the representatives (Senate and House) for your electorate: http://www.openaustralia.org.au/?gclid=CNTc9ZqD98cCFQetaQodEVMDvQ