Here, I relate what the journalist said in his article « L’affaire du Levothyrox illustre une confusion entre “consensus scientifique” et “consensus réglementaire” ». All quotes, originally in French, were translated by me.
On April 4, a study appeared in the journal Clinical Pharmacokinetics giving a “pharmacological explanation for the disorders declared by thyroid patients after their switch to the new formula of Levothyrox.” The Merck laboratory had indeed changed the formulation of a drug against thyroid disorders, Levothyrox. “Tens of thousands” of patients using it have reported new side effects.
However, “a part of the medical profession, the learned societies involved and the authorities nevertheless argue that no adverse effects can be attributed to the new formula, since a scientific consensus certifies its equivalence to the old one.” However, this would not be a scientific consensus, but a regulatory consensus. S. Foucart defines it:
“A regulatory consensus is based on the opinions of expert agencies which judge the compliance of a product with the regulations in force. These are often anonymous opinions, not subject to peer review, based on data generally confidential and inaccessible to criticism, produced and interpreted by the manufacturers themselves. “
This “science” would often be called upon, in health or environmental controversies, to “silence the protesters”:
“” It is allowed, so Science guarantees us that it is safe” is a convenient slogan, but one that ignores a huge body of work by historians and sociologists of science. “
Indeed the health scandals, for example with chlordecone, DDT, PCB, NNI or chlorpyrifos show that a substance considered safe by the regulatory authorities can in fact be very toxic. Likewise, a report from the European Parliament shows that “the bulk of European regulations do not incorporate scientific knowledge on endocrine disruptors, which has been acquired over more than twenty years. “ This misuse of the authority of science would fuel relativism:
“Because if you have been persuaded that regulation is science, why, when it is obvious that the former is so often wrong, would you still trust the latter? “