Getting drugs on the market means playing games. So says Peter Lurie of Public Citizen, an interest group founded by Ralph Nader and based in Washington, D.C. Of course, it's the agency's mission to be leery. But lately pharmaceutical companies are giving groups like Lurie's more to be leery about. Drug firms now wield a great deal of control over their research, Lurie charges, and they are frequently manipulating their data or withholding unfavorable results entirely.
One of Public Citizen's latest battles is over a drug for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Three years ago the Food and Drug Administration approved Lotronex (alosetron hydrochloride), the first agent to treat the disorder specifically. As published in the Lancet, clinical trials in women revealed that 41 percent taking the drug felt some relief, as did 29 percent taking a placebo.
This article was originally published with the title Bad Medicine.