According to a new study, we should take Chinese studies with a grain of salt – or rather, with a ton of salt.
The report has revealed scientific fraud on a monumental scale, concluding that more than 80 percent of clinical data is “fabricated.” The study analyzed 1,622 clinical trial programs of new pharmaceutical drugs awaiting regulation approval and found breaches at almost every level. Companies were hiding records of potentially adverse side effects and vastly modified crucial data about the drugs. It gets even worse.
This isn’t just a few scientists or companies, it’s a wide-scale problem. Many clinical trial outcomes were written before the trials had actually taken place – in other words, there was no real data, just something to fit what the company wanted. The companies in charge of inspecting clinical trial facilities are mentioned in the report as being “accomplices in data fabrication due to cut-throat competition and economic motivation”. So basically, everyone was in on it.
China’s fakery is out in the world, but inside the country – there was no secret at all. As shocking as it sounds, most institutions knew about this.
“Clinical data fabrication was an open secret even before the inspection,” the paper quoted an unnamed hospital chief as saying.
A problem at this magnitude is simply shocking. According to Luo Liang, a Chinese healthcare professional, numerous Chinese companies are trying to turn a profit by manufacturing Western medicine, without actually inventing anything new.
“The domestic market for Western pharmaceuticals in China is either confined to very straightforward generic products that have been around for a long time … or revolves around joint-venture pharmaceutical manufacture with foreign companies,” Liang told Sing Man for Radio Free Asia.
“Either that, or Chinese pharmaceutical factories get hold of the formula for certain drugs whose patents have expired,” he added. “There are no new drugs in development in the same way that there are overseas … I don’t think that the 80 percent figure is overstated.”
The study analyzed only Western Medicine – China still greatly relies on traditional medicine. The basic medical insurance in China is greatly focused on traditional medicine, covering 832 traditional Chinese medicines. But that doesn’t mean that Chinese medicine is any better – if anything, it’s probably even worse because traditional medicine is almost impossible to properly regulate.
Liang says that this is part of an even bigger problem – everything in China is fake, he says.
“It’s not just the medicines,” he said. “In China, everything is fake, and if there’s a profit in pharmaceuticals, then someone’s going to fake them too.”
The SFDA report was released by the state-owned Economic Information Daily Newspaper. So far, there’s no English version of the report.