Friday, January 7, 2011

What Does Money Have To Do With It?

While we're on the subject of research and the healthy skepticism with which a single study should usually be regarded, we wanted to make mention of a good book from last fall's reading list. White Coat, Black Hat: Adventures on the Dark Side of Medicine takes a hard look at the corrupting influence of corporate money on medical research. To us, the disparity in research funding between pharmaceuticals and hyperbaric medicine is striking. We can't help but observe that the pace of adoption of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in new areas of medicine may be related to the fact that hyperbaric chamber manufacturers and HBOT providers have nowhere near the financial resources of drug companies.

Maybe that's a good thing in the long term. If research into new uses for hyperbaric oxygen therapy isn't driven by manufacturer dollars study results may be more enduring. As a therapy with multiple applications, perhaps new HBOT research will serve as a guiding example for uncoupling research underwriting from its financial beneficiaries. In the meantime, we'll regard research with the potential to be hugely beneficial to a specific organization with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Problems with the system may make us advocates for improvement, but we're not motivated to question the essential value of peer reviewed scientific research. Science may be fallible, but it's a lot less fallible than non-science.

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