Home > Medical/Health Commentary > NEJM steps into minefield, suffers consequences as expected

NEJM steps into minefield, suffers consequences as expected

My first substantive post on this blog dissected an article in the American Journal of Public Health in which a group of Harvard-affiliated medical researchers strayed far from what one would imagine is their usual area of expertise.  Their claim was that various health and life insurers hold outsized stakes in fast-food companies, and thus are unethically profiting from their policyholders’ unhealthy behaviour.  A rudimentary look at their numbers and some basic familiarity with how insurance works are all that is needed to realize that this claim doesn’t hold water.

Now the NEJM has done something similar.  The Drug and Device Law blog looks at a recent NEJM Special Report on the experiences of qui tam whistleblowers in lawsuits against drug companies, and rips the authors to shreds.  The full post is well worth a read.

I’m not the most avid reader of medical journal articles (I see some of them when they’re recommended to me), but I suspect that this sort of thing has been going on for a while, and is likely to continue apace.  More and more spheres of life, especially law, policy, “social issues,” etc., are being recognized for their effects on people’s health, and interest in these areas from medical academia seems to be growing.  One could argue whether this is part of a larger trend of overmedicalization of society, but that’s a question for another time.  What is clear from these two specific examples is that in order for observers to take seriously medicine’s contribution to scholarship and policy in these areas, medicine’s contribution has to reflect a reasonably sophisticated understanding of how the law/political process/various environmental determinants of health actually work.

When, as in these two cases, medical researchers don’t even get the basics straight, it’s just embarrassing.

(DDL post found via Overlawyered)

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