As some of you may have read, Med School student Reid absolutely eviscerates my point made in a post about bariatric surgery and comparitive effectiveness. Anyway, if I had been less lazy and actually researched a little bit, I would have learned — as Reid put it — “there’s more science in that study, and less marketing,” but I think there is still some legitimacy to my point. The fact is, the results were publicized by a trade group because they bolster the image and importance of that particular group. As I note in comments, there’s nothing inherently wrong with doing this, but it would be better if this sort of research were undertaken by dispassionate experts.
As Reid suggests, I definitely chose a poor example. Obviously, the effects of bariatric surgery are pretty salutory and there’s less money to be made than I initially thought. Still, the current state of affairs empowers groups with financial incentives (pharmaceuticals, trade groups, etc.) rather than purely scientific motivations to guide a large chunk of medical research.