Comments Re:13 year BMJ investigation of research misconduct

Noting that the BMJ allowed 10 years to elapse before ever confronting Dr.
Ram Singh with accusations about the integrity of his research, Eddie Vos
puts the blame on the journal. Had the editor  given Dr. Singh a fair and
square opportunity to defend his work, he might have been able to do so. At
that time, he might have been able to provide the raw data. On  the other
hand, iIf misconduct had been found, the journal had a duty to inform its
readers about the false claims in the BMJ article. But the journal editor’s
"investigation" was conducted in secret.     

Vos notes that "Relating that an Indian researcher was remiss to have
records of a long-published study destroyed by ‘termites’ sounds exotic and
‘fishy’ but it makes no sense since the West uses shredders, as per policy
and routinely so." Indeed, he notes that Canadian universities REQUIRE
scientists to destroy original research data.

There is another issue that AHRP finds troubling, an issue not addressed by
the WSJ: that is, BMJ’s extraordinary endorsement, in 2003, of a highly
controversial recommendation that is sure to make pharmaceutical companies
even richer.  The BMJ breathlessly endorsed much expanded use of statins to
reduce heart atacks–an endorsement contradicted by Dr. Singh’s findings
that nutrition and life-style changes are the best means for reducing heart
In an October, 2003 editorial, Dr. Richard Smith (then) editor of the BMJ
rhapsodized about the "Pollypill" (which some have called the "weapon of
mass salvation").

The Polypill solution was introduced as the lead article in the BMJ June 28,
2003 issue as a magic bullet combination: "A strategy to reduce heart
disease by more than 80%".
The two British authors’ contention was that 1 in 3 people over the age of
54 could look forward to an additional 11 or 12 years of life free from
cardiovascular disease by taking a daily Polypill.
See: Wald NJ, Law MR. A strategy to reduce cardiovascular disease by more
than 80%. BMJ  2003;326: 1419-24. (28 June.)[Abstract/Free Full Text]  
Dr. Smith’s October editorial has the ring of an evangelist preacher:
  "Light the blue touch paper and retreat 5 metres. That’s what we did when
we published a series of papers suggesting that if everybody started taking
a pill containing six ingredients at the age of 55 then deaths from heart
disease and stroke would be reduced by 80%. The pill would contain aspirin,
a statin, folic acid, and three antihypertensives at half dose. Versions of
all the drugs are now off patent, and the pill could be produced for pence.
Wild with enthusiasm, I suggested that the issue of the BMJ that published
the articles might be the most important for 50 years and become a
collector’s item….It could be available for me to take on my 55th birthday
on 11 March 2007 (no cards, please)."

See: Letters in response to Dr. Smith’s editorial:

See also, "Converting Millions of Healthy People Into Perpetual Patients" by
Paul Roisch, MD, clinical professor of medicine and psychiatry at New York
Medical College and is President of the American Institute of Stress who
critiques those who led the Polypill stampede:

"A guest editorial by Anthony Rogers, co-director of the Clinical Trials
Research Unit, University of Auckland was not quite as gushy [as Smith’s].
However, it also seemed to endorse the authors’ claim that the Polypill
would have "a greater impact on the prevention of disease in the Western
world than any other known intervention"! Not surprisingly, the professors
filed a patent application for their formulation and a trademark application
for the name Polypill over three years ago….There is apparently little
concern about safety because of the relatively low dosages of the various
drugs, which apparently does not reduce their effectiveness…" See:

* Most Recent Publications of Eddie Vos:
 Vos E, Rose C.  Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease in Women. JAMA Dec.
14, 2005.
 Vos E, Rose C.  Questioning the benefits of statins.  Can Med Ass’n J. Nov.
8, 2005. [html]
 Vos E.  Use of statins not supported by study.  Br Med J. 2005 (331):159.
 Vos E.  Modified Mediterranean diet and survival. Key confounder was
missed. Br Med J. 2005 (330):1329.

Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav

—–Original Message—–
From: Eddie Vos []
Sent: Tuesday, December 27, 2005 5:53 PM
Subject: Re: Medical Journal Editor Finds Truth Hard to Track Down

Dear Vera, while it is undeniable that the initial randomization of
patients was flawed in this now 13 year old publication’s, it is
inexcusable to wait that long with such accusations, 10 years after the
initial publication was printed.  Clearly the Journal is at fault here.

Please realize that reputable Canadian universities force their
researchers to destroy original research data unless a compelling case is
made not to.  Relating that an Indian researcher was remiss to have
records of a long-published study destroyed by ‘termites’ sounds exotic
and ‘fishy’ but it makes no sense since the West uses shredders, as per
policy and routinely so.

There was no indication of deliberate fraud and unfortunately this
episode tarnishes the entire Indian research world without adequate
analysis because of a Journal’s delay in acting, i.e. asking for the data
when they were clearly still available in 1992.

Dr. Singh, with eminent Israeli researcher Berry and others, published
another study in 2002 Lancet that showed that an increase in plant based
omega-3 fatty acid reduces second heart attacks and deaths thereof.  This
study is here: [Medline 12433513].  This study
doubled the intake of plant based omega-3 fatty acid and reported an
about halving of second cardiovascular events.  As amazing as this may
seem, it is entirely in line with a similar study, the Lyon Diet Heart
Study, that nobody questions, see here:

Let us not flush the baby with the bath water and dismiss studies that
find amazing benefit with nutritional approaches [no drugs] and most
importantly omega-3 increases that actually lower cardiovascular deaths.
The Journal should have asked others to repeat the study in question
rather than generating this Royal Mess that benefits nobody but the
established drug and low cholesterol / low-fat industries that have
proven not to be beneficial to people’s health.

Please send this around in my name, signed, Eddie Vos