The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Negative Results?
Just Ignore Them!

Jul 19, 2004

The New York attorney general filed a lawsuit against the drug company GlaxoSmithKline for suppressing results of a drug trial. The study showed that an antidepressant put out by GlaxoSmith-Kline–Paxil–was no more effective than a dummy pill in treating depressed young people. Other studies have indicated that Paxil and other anti-depressants have led to an increase in suicides. This brought to the surface a longstanding practice in the so-called scientific medical community to publish only the results of drug trials that show their products are effective. Many scientific institutions that conduct studies for the drug companies agree to suppress negative results that show the products to be ineffective or even very unsafe.

How absurd is it that in the twenty-first century, in a supposedly scientific society, scientists do not publish negative findings? Scientists can gain more knowledge from negative results than from positive ones. They help scientists understand what roads NOT to go down and what processes can be ruled out. But, of course, negative results are not good for profits, so capitalists just throw them out. They throw out many people as the result–the people who die from taking a medication that harms them or die because they got one which did nothing to relieve their maladies.