Junk Science? Number 71: Big Pharma bias and inaccurate conclusions in vaccine research

Big Pharma bias and inaccurate conclusions in vaccine research

The conclusions drawn in over 80 per cent of flu vaccine global research studies did not hold up to objective scrutiny, according to a report in the BMJ, March 2014. Huge inaccuracy levels like these rightly fuel serious skeptic concerns that flu vaccine benefits are often hyped.

The BMJ study, which looked at some 274 comparative studies on flu vaccination, found that only a mere 18 per cent of the studies were deemed to actually prove what the articles claimed to be their findings!

The better the quality of the study the more likely the study was to prove what was claimed.


1.The size of the study was not linked to accuracy of conclusions.

2.Nor were more citations. Actually they were linked to partial or complete industry funding. And then these are more likely to be found in more prestigious journals.

The BMJ report stated that, “Studies partly or completely sponsored by industry, however, were published in more prestigious journals and are probably cited more, although their methodological quality and size were similar. Some of these findings might help to explain the continuation of a near global policy, (to flu vaccination), despite growing doubts as to its scientific basis”.

While “70% of the studies reported conclusions favourable to the vaccines … only 18% showed complete concordance between data reported and study conclusions. Over half (56%) of studies were at high risk of bias, with only 4% being at low risk”.

Given that doctors and other healthcare professionals have little time and tend to ‘flick read’ little more than the top line conclusions, a figure of 18 per cent accuracy is cause for great concern. But worse, the appearance in ‘trustworthy’ prestigious publications is more to do with funding by interested companies than accuracy.

And worse still, many of the studies are then re-quoted, and/or used to substantiate others. It’s self-perpetuating medical mythology.

Tom Jefferson, lead author said, “The study shows that one of the levers for accessing prestigious journals is the financial size of your sponsor. Pharmaceutical sponsors order many reprints of studies supporting their products, often with in-house translations into many languages. They will also purchase publicity space on the journal. Many publishers openly advertise these services on their website.”

Ref: BMJ 2009;338:b354

Back to top button