Cochrane, medicine’s trusted watchdog organization, inexplicably expels vocal critic of Big Pharma

Cochrane – previously known as the Cochrane Collaboration – is a trusted non-profit organization that relies on the unpaid efforts of tens of thousands of volunteers worldwide to evaluate and organize the findings of medical studies via 53 global review groups. The organization examines the results of various medical interventions and diagnostic tests, and then publishes its findings in the Cochrane Library. The group’s motto summarizes what it has spent the past 25 years accomplishing: Trusted evidence. Informed decisions. Better health.

The integrity of this highly respected organization has come under serious fire in recent years, however, and criticism of its efforts is likely to escalate dramatically after the inexplicable termination of Dr. Peter Gøtzsche, a governing board member who happens to be an outspoken critic of Big Pharma. Gøtzsche, who refers to Big Pharma as “organized crime,” is the author of the book, Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime: How big pharma has corrupted healthcare. (Related: EPA appoints ‘scientific integrity official’ to curb concerns about lack of scientific transparency.)

A sleeping watchdog

In an open letter sent out via email recently, Dr. Gøtzsche explained that no clear reason was supplied for his expulsion, except that he was accused of bringing the organization into “disrepute.” His dismissal caused outrage among other members of the board, four of whom immediately tendered their resignations.

Though Cochrane is viewed as the “gold standard” of scientific integrity, it has recently been accused of publishing reviews biased in favor of Big Pharma:

We pride ourselves on being global providers of “trusted evidence” on a foundation of values such as openness, transparency and collaboration.

However, in recent years Cochrane has significantly shifted more to a business – a profit-driven approach.

As Dr. Gøtzsche noted in his email, Cochrane’s central executive team has also displayed “great reluctance” to improve the organization’s conflict of interest policy:

A year ago, I proposed that there should be no authors of Cochrane reviews to have financial conflicts of interests with companies related to the products considered in the reviews.

This proposal was supported by other members of the Board, but the proposal has not progressed at all.

Does any of this really matter, though? It does, as Dr. Gøtzsche explained:

We make a substantial contribution to people’s understanding and interpretation of scientific evidence on the benefits and harms of medical interventions, devices and procedures that impact the population.

Our work informs government legislation globally, it influences medical guidelines and drug approval agencies. Therefore, the integrity of the Cochrane Collaboration is paramount. … What is at stake is the ability of producing credible and trustworthy medical evidence that our society values and needs.

Can Cochrane still be trusted?

As reported by Health Impact News, Cochrane received a “gift” in the amount of $1.15 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for project work undertaken between 2016 and 2017. In addition, the respected British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a critique by the Nordic Cochrane Foundation earlier this year, in which researchers criticized Cochrane’s review of the HPV vaccine. The Nordic Cochrane team alleged that the review did not meet the organization’s own review standards and failed to adequately meet the needs of the patients and healthcare providers who refer to Cochrane when making healthcare decisions. (Related: Science shock — Almost all medical studies are bogus; reproducibility approaches zero.)

The apparent downfall of Cochrane is the latest evidence that as Big Pharma continues to grow from strength to strength, extending its tentacles of power into every available nook and cranny, we will be left with fewer and fewer trustworthy, independent sources of information that we can really rely on.

For more on Big Pharma’s insidious ways, visit

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