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AFRO-NETS> A Stand for Scientific Independence
- Subject: AFRO-NETS> A Stand for Scientific Independence
- From: Helga Patrikios <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Fri, 10 Aug 2001 12:46:21 -0400 (EDT)
A Stand for Scientific Independence
You probably saw the piece below in E-drug. I really want to send a
copy to John Le Carre. It looks almost as if the decision of these
journals was in response to his novel 'The Constant Gardener' - a
mixed-quality novel about killer drug trials exploiting poor pa-
tients, and crooked and ruthless pharmas and a researcher contracted
to remain silent. It's a great read, especially here, because it's
set mostly in Kenya, so could even be rather relevant here...
Deputy University Librarian
University of Zimbabwe
P.O. Box A178, Avondale
Tel: + 263-4-791-631, 708-140
Fax: + 263-4-795-019
>From E-drug [Copied as fair use. HH]
"A Stand for Scientific Independence"
Washington Post (08.05.01): Susan Okie
The New England Journal of Medicine, the Lancet, the Annals of Inter-
nal Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association
(JAMA) are among the journals that have agreed to adopt a uniform
policy that reserves the right to refuse to publish drug company-
sponsored studies unless the researchers are guaranteed scientific
independence. They plan to publish a joint editorial in mid-September
outlining the new policy, which was drafted by editors over the last
The editors said that the new policy is a response to the industry's
increasingly tight control over research results and, in many cases,
over whether and how results are made public. In recent years, drug
companies have become the dominant funders of biomedical research.
The editors acted after several recent cases involving charges that
drug companies tried to withhold research results or present them in
a favorable light. "It's become a huge problem," said Frank Davidoff,
editor of the Annals of Internal Medicine. Catherine D. DeAngelis,
editor of JAMA, said, "the goal would be that all of the major jour-
nals would adopt similar ... principles," with respect to researcher
Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of
Medicine, sometimes received manuscripts from company-sponsored stud-
ies that had the "methods" section - the explanation of how the study
was carried out - left blank. "They'd say, 'This is proprietary,'"
she said. In large, company-sponsored drug trials involving multiple
hospitals, the company typically holds the information collected.
"Not even the principal author sees all the data," Angell said.
Several observers of biomedical studies who have become alarmed about
the influence praised the decision of the editors. In one case, Uni-
versity of California - San Francisco pharmacologist Betty J. Dong
found that cheaper generic versions of thyroid hormone worked as well
as a brand-name drug, Synthroid, made by Knoll Pharmaceuticals.
Knoll, which had funded the research, successfully blocked publica-
tion of Dong's findings for seven years. In 1999, Knoll agreed to pay
37 states almost $42 million to settle a suit alleging that it had
made false claims that Synthroid was superior to competing brands and
had interfered with the publication of the study.
Bert A. Spilker, senior vice president for scientific and regulatory
affairs at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America,
called the journal editors' concerns "patently absurd". "The journals
are becoming more and more antithetical to even considering an indus-
try perspective," he said. "Except for some very, very rare excep-
tions...[the process] is working well."
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