The plot thickens

The plot thickens

Diabetic Investor has learned that JAMA will be republishing a corrected version of Dr. Peter Butler’s commentary which was pulled from the JAMA Internal Medicine due to a factual error. What we still don’t know is who discovered this error or even what the error was. Since we have a copy of the original commentary Diabetic Investor will be able to compare the two versions and ultimately discover just what the error was.

Diabetic Investor also reached out again to the media relations at UCLA to see if Dr. Butler would be responding to our repeated requests to get his side of the story. According to their Senior Media Relations Officer at UCLA; “Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you. All queries are being referred to the JAMA media relations office. “

So here are with JAMA for reasons only known to them withholding information for reasons unknown. Could it be that JAMA is embarrassed for publishing a study that has been widely denounced? Why all the secrecy? Do they really believe the factual error in the original version of the commentary won’t be discovered? While it possible they may reveal who discovered and reported the error, Diabetic Investor isn’t so sure based on their less than forthcoming responses to repeated request for clarity.

Common sense tells us that had this been an innocent error, both JAMA and Dr. Butler would be more than forthcoming with information. However their unwillingness to come forward with information tells Diabetic Investor there’s much more to this story than originally imagined. Is it possible that JAMA and Dr. Butler think this situation will magically go away and that the truth will not come out in the future? Isn’t this the same attitude taken by the Nixon White House when the initial stories relating the Watergate burglary to a broader conspiracy which ultimately lead to President Nixon’s resignation?

We’ve seen situations like this before when what was supposed to be a respected publication publishes a dubious study questioning the safety of widely a used diabetes medication, only later to publish a public apology after the damage was already inflicted. Is it not time for these peer review publications to establish stricter vetting procedures for both the studies they plan on publishing and any related commentaries?  Should these publications not take into account previous statements, interviews and other public comments made by the authors of these commentaries?

As we noted before Dr. Butler, like that crusading cardiologists Dr. Nissen, have agendas that go beyond sparking a healthy debate of the issues. Both Dr. Nissen and now Dr. Butler have broader agendas and want to see particular drugs withdrawn from the market; drugs which are not just widely prescribed but also very effective at treating diabetes. These drugs have been widely studied and their side effect profiles are well known. It’s as if Dr. Butler believes that the physicians who prescribe these drugs are being duped by the drug companies into using them and are incapable of independent thought. This view is not just condescending but an insult to every physician who is trying to treat their patients with diabetes.

It’s time that these publications, who at one time were widely respected, realize they also have a responsibility to disseminate accurate information.  That when an issue has more than one side, as often happens in the drug business, they offer more than just one side of the story.  That when mistakes are made, not to run away and hide but accept responsibility.

This lack of transparency and all this secrecy sends the wrong message making both JAMA and Dr. Butler seem guilty of having nefarious motives for withholding information.  Until the truth comes out, and it will, we won’t know for sure what their motives were. Yet the longer this goes and the more questions that are raised will only make a bad situation worse. As John Locke write; “It is one thing to show a man he is an error, and another to, put him in the possession of truth.”  It’s about time JAMA and Dr. Butler realized this and held to the old adage that truth while not always pleasant will set them free.