This has been a big week for long articles about the role (read: SCANDAL) of money in the so-called science of medicine. Scientific American has a very worthwhile article with a focus on drugs for osteoporosis. I covered this subject once before. Charles Seife, the author, is an academic who worked very hard to piece together information, and the story is compelling.
“There isn't a single sector of academic medicine, academic research or medical education in which industry relationships are not a ubiquitous factor,” says sociologist Eric Campbell, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
The Washington Post ran a long piece today on the Avandia scandal and how GSK managed the bad news, keeping the drug on the market for years after the bad news was known (and causing thousands of excess deaths in the process).
Over a year-long period ending in August, NEJM published 73 articles on original studies of new drugs, encompassing drugs approved by the FDA since 2000 and experimental drugs, according to a review by The Washington Post.Of those articles, 60 were funded by a pharmaceutical company, 50 were co-written by drug company employees and 37 had a lead author, typically an academic, who had previously accepted outside compensation from the sponsoring drug company in the form of consultant pay, grants or speaker fees.This was also the week when BMJ issued its new guidance for publishing clinical trials, requiring sharing of data by drug and device makers.
Maybe change is coming. Maybe industry, which has conflated marketing and clinical research, will have its wings clipped. We'll see.