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ResourcesHuman Research Ethics‘Evidence-Based Medicine’ and the Expulsion of Peter Gøtzsche – Medscape (Daniel Kolitz | December 2019)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

‘Evidence-Based Medicine’ and the Expulsion of Peter Gøtzsche – Medscape (Daniel Kolitz | December 2019)

 


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FOR EIGHT MONTHS in 1975, Peter Gøtzsche recalls driving around Denmark misleading doctors about a new, more expensive type of penicillin. He was 25 years old, with master’s degrees in biology and chemistry. As a pharmaceutical representative for the Sweden-based Astra Group, he was tasked with promoting Globacillin, which was said to be more effective than regular penicillin. At the time, Gøtzsche says he did not know that the claims he was making on behalf of his employer were not backed by high-quality evidence.

Gøtzsche stayed in the pharmaceutical industry for another eight years, writing brochures, strategizing ad campaigns, and, eventually, presiding over clinical trials. It was here that disillusionment set in. Gøtzsche — in his telling, still a principled naïf — would watch with dismay as his superiors twisted or suppressed any unflattering trial results. Increasingly distraught, Gøtzsche began pursuing a medical degree, leaving the industry for good in 1983.

His medical thesis, titled “Bias in Double-Blind Trials,” examined the claims of 244 reports of clinical trials for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, a group that includes ibuprofen and aspirin. Gøtzsche’s writing strongly critiqued the marketing practices of his former employer, Astra-Syntex, pointing out that no good evidence existed for their claim that the higher the dose, the better the effect.

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