Sunday, November 25, 2012

Drug companies "own" the N. E. Journal of Medicine

Remember Avandia? The diabetes drug that was taken off the market a couple years ago?...the Food and Drug Administration estimated Avandia had been linked to about 83,000 heart attacks and deaths.

A 2006 report in the New England Journal of Medicine described clinical trials that pointed to Avandia, a GlaxoSmithKline drug, as the best performer. Those clinical trials were funded by GlaxoSmithKline, and the NEJM report had 11 authors, each of whom had been paid by GlaxoSmithKline. Four of the authors were Glaxo employees who held company stock.

I guess you're thinking "conflict of interest"… I know I am. I guess you're thinking "why would the NEJM publish a report with such a provocatively apparent conflict of interest?"…. I know I am. If the NEJM isn't going to uphold its role as a guardian of academic and medical objectivity, then how is a drug report in the NEJM different from a magazine ad?

Who will watch the watchdogs?

Here's an excerpt from The Washington Post's investigative story (click here for full text):

"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."

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

watchdogs part 3

watchdogs part 2

watchdogs part 1

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