I think you have too much faith in the 'system'. There are times when challenging the scientific orthodoxy is wrong (thank you for that, Dr Wakefield), but there are other times when research is attacked for personal reasons. One story that hit close to home is this gentleman's.
1) It seems you have missed the part about how I prefer peer reviewed journals because in the case of a news article: "If I
can't go and pick up the journal and look at the data, materials, and methods the article has no meaning." Not saying that the establishment is always reliable (if Antoine Lavoisier taught us anything it is that), but I am saying that without analysis of their procedures, materials, and methods, you will never know.
2) Pusztai's problems stemmed significantly more from the government and scientists on a government payroll than the larger scientific community. Indeed it was only through peer review by his fellows in the scientific community that his research was vindicated in direct opposition to the will of the govornment.
Also, why bother going through the peer review process? It takes time that a research group doesn't necessarily have if it wants to be the first to-market drug that will pass administrative hurdles. The FDA / NICE are far harsher reviewers of a clinical trial than most academics.
Frankly I care little about the race for drug-patents, but that is just me. We bother with the peer review process for three reasons:
1) Accountability: Not all research that goes into making a drug is going to be reviewed by the FDA. Every drug trial is based on a large amount of foundational research in vitro that is not subject to their oversight. Nor is indeed a majority of biological research even involved in drug-discovery, and as such is not subject to the FDA. For that which is subject to oversight, double accountability is a nice thing to have before you begin injecting humans.
2) Volume: There are currently over 800 clinical trials related to AD
currently underway. This links back into oversight. With that many disparate trials in that many disparate institutes, not to mention the thousands of animal model studies and theoretical works that need to be reviewed, it requires the joint activity of the community and government to generate an acceptable level of oversight. Once again, a little care in what we inject into people is not a bad thing.
3) Specialization: Government regulators are well and good. They may have training, they may even have training in the broad field that they are going to review. But that isn't a substitute for hands on, specialized laboratory experience. A government neurobiologist reviewing a Parkinson's drug trial is not going to see it in the same light as an independent neurobiologist who has specialized in the study of Parkinson's and works with models of the disease in his lab everyday.
And as a fourth reason: because as you yourself have pointed out with the Pusztai case, leaving things solely in government hands with no oversight is a bad idea.
All that said, this is not really the place to talk about this. So ima going to go ahead and lock this thread down since no one seems interested in discussing the original premise of journalists and their inability to properly portray science. If you want to talk about the peer review process, do feel free to either start your own thread or PM me.
And yeah, they tossed out the ABeta plaque theory years ago. There is contention now that the aggregatioon of ABeta into plaques is in fact neuroprotective and is done by the immune system. There is now a theory that the unaccumulated fragments are the real culprits (much like peptide fragments cause nuerodegeneration in Huntington's). However, to proclaim my personal bias for the record: ABeta oligomer/Tau fibril Combinatorial Process Theory FTW!