Farewell. The Flying Pig Has Left The Building.

Steve Hynd, August 16, 2012

After four years on the Typepad site, eight years total blogging, Newshoggers is closing it's doors today. We've been coasting the last year or so, with many of us moving on to bigger projects (Hey, Eric!) or simply running out of blogging enthusiasm, and it's time to give the old flying pig a rest.

We've done okay over those eight years, although never being quite PC enough to gain wider acceptance from the partisan "party right or wrong" crowds. We like to think we moved political conversations a little, on the ever-present wish to rush to war with Iran, on the need for a real Left that isn't licking corporatist Dem boots every cycle, on America's foreign misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. We like to think we made a small difference while writing under that flying pig banner. We did pretty good for a bunch with no ties to big-party apparatuses or think tanks.

Those eight years of blogging will still exist. Because we're ending this typepad account, we've been archiving the typepad blog here. And the original blogger archive is still here. There will still be new content from the old 'hoggers crew too. Ron writes for The Moderate Voice, I post at The Agonist and Eric Martin's lucid foreign policy thoughts can be read at Democracy Arsenal.

I'd like to thank all our regular commenters, readers and the other bloggers who regularly linked to our posts over the years to agree or disagree. You all made writing for 'hoggers an amazingly fun and stimulating experience.

Thank you very much.

Note: This is an archive copy of Newshoggers. Most of the pictures are gone but the words are all here. There may be some occasional new content, John may do some posts and Ron will cross post some of his contributions to The Moderate Voice so check back.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The routine suppressing of drug research

By BJ Bjornson

Today�s scary reading comes from McClatchy:

Drug research, even from clinical trials sponsored by the federal government, routinely is suppressed, harming patients and increasing health care costs, according to new data highlighting an ethical controversy that continues to plague the field of medicine.

. . .

From diabetes drugs to spine surgery products, scandals involving concealed data have mounted. Consider the cases of two heart drugs that were the subject of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel stories:

For two years, Schering-Plough, the maker of the popular cholesterol drug Vytorin, sat on the results of a clinical trial showing the drug provided no benefit in improving artery health. During that time the drug was heavily marketed to consumers in TV ads. The situation came to light in 2008 after a congressional investigation was launched.

In 2003, a clinical trial of Multaq, a drug that treated irregular heartbeat, was stopped because more patients who were getting the drug were dying than those who were getting a placebo. However, the study was not published until five years later.

In 2007, an independent analysis of the diabetes drug Avandia found that the drug increased heart attacks and cardiovascular deaths.

Steve Nissen, the lead author of the analysis, said 35 of the 42 studies he looked at were unpublished and were obtained only because a court case required the drug's maker, GlaxoSmithKline, to turn over the data.

Drug companies may have been the focus of most of the criticism, medical device makers also come in for their share of suppressing data, particularly Medtronic, where a paper written by several surgeons receiving millions in royalties from the company failed to publish a the results of a clinical trial showing problems with a bone-growth stimulating product.

And lest it be said that it is only the companies themselves keeping vital data out of the light, government-funded research isn�t faring much better.

A surprising finding in the BMJ analysis was that serious lapses occurred even in clinical trials funded by the National Institutes of Health.

That research showed that less than half of NIH-funded clinical trials were published in a medical journal within 30 months of the completion of the trial and after 51 months, one-third of trials remained unpublished.

. . .

A second BMJ paper looked at clinical trials of drugs that already had received at least one Food and Drug Administration approval. In such cases a law requires the reporting within one year of the completion of the trial.

Despite the law, only 163 of 738 such trials, or 22 percent, had reported the results within a year, the paper found.

Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn�t it?


  1. It makes me think some long-overdue muckraking investigative journalism is finally getting under way. Even a year or two before the health care reform catfight I came across occasional references to the incestuous relationship between drug companies and the forces that might either expedite or delay research. Years ago the National Institute of Health, a tax-supported institution, started "auctioning" discoveries to the private sector which then was able to make tons of money until the generic version finally came available. NIH has done most of the R&D heavy lifting with market research and production expenses left to companies that were to reap the profits.
    The whole arrangement is a steaming pile of the usual political quid pro quo. Senator Sanders said recently that the same HIV anti-virals that are available in third world countries for a few hundred bucks cost about ten times as much in the US. Big Pharma, like Willie Sutton, goes where the money is.
    The scrutiny of medical practices, drugs and the rest of health care is finally getting the examination it should have been subject to decades ago. But there are still forces with deep pockets and influential political connectins opposed to the trend. (So what else is new.)

  2. The reality is Drug companies can sell drugs they know will kill or injure people and still make money. At one point in my life as a manufacturing engineer I was involved in warranty research. Basically if you give a warranty of X years you are going to have Y failures during X which is going to cost you Z dollars. The longer the warranty the more sales you make. So what is the value of X that will make money. The pharmaceutical companies make the same calculations except people are injured or die. Y = lawsuits and X = profits. As long as X is greater than Y people will be injured or die.