Conflicts of Interest in Science
NEJM says Conflicts of Interest Endanger Research


18 May 2000

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 11:28:46 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Roy L. Beavers" <>
To: emfguru <>
Subject: New England Journal of Medicine says conflicts of interest
endanger research (Curry)..

Hi everybody:

........Finally, somebody is listening!!!!!  Thanks to Bill Curry for the following.......

Dr. Marcia Angell (below) is talking about the problem in the drug/medical field.....  She could just as easily be talking about the story of EMF research.....!!!  Remember that lady's name......!!!!

Cheerio......  I'm DELIGHTED at what I read below.....

For Senator McCain:  Senator - it is not just the "political system" that has been corrupted by BIG corporate $$$$$$$$ -- Our "science" is badly compromised too!!!!

Roy Beavers (EMFguru)

It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness

People are more important than profits!!

Journal says conflicts of interest endanger research

The New England Journal of Medicine
By JEFF DONN, Associated Press

(May 18, 2000 1:40 a.m. EDT

- The editor of one of the world's premier medical journals has written a withering critique of the research system, saying science is being compromised by the growing influence of industry money.

Dr. Marcia Angell, editor of The New England Journal of Medicine, joins a wave of critics who say an explosion of research funding from drug and medical-equipment makers has added commercial concerns to the scientific process.

"When the boundaries between industry and academic medicine become as blurred as they are now, the business goals of industry influence the mission of medical schools in multiple ways," she cautioned.

She raised the questions in today's issue of the journal in an editorial headlined "Is Academic Medicine for Sale?" The Boston-based journal is widely regarded as medicine's most distinguished periodical.

Angell, the journal's outgoing editor, acknowledged that rising research funding from biotechnology and drug companies has helped lead to dramatic advances against many diseases in recent years.

At the same time, she said, medical schools have struck a "Faustian bargain" with industry.

She said industry representatives are lavishing giveaway products, other gifts and trips on doctors. She said speaking and consulting fees, along with other compensation, are subtly swaying researchers toward more favorable findings on products of companies making the payments.

She said researchers may also be focusing on trivial - but marketable - differences between similar drugs.

As a remedy, she said major medical schools should adopt a strong, common code for conflicts of interest, banning some writing and speaking arrangements and stock ownership in companies making the products under study. She said drug companies should not promote products and offer gifts to students and doctors at teaching hospitals. And she suggested that researchers' consulting income could go into a common research pool.

Michael Werner, a lawyer for the Washington-based Biotechnology Industry Organization, said disclosure of financial ties and government regulation sufficiently protect the public. He said companies have every reason to shun poor research because of liability and the bad publicity that could result from a recall.

Dr. Jeffrey Drazen, an asthma researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital, has been named to replace Angell, probably later this year.

Drazen's own ties to the drug industry came under scrutiny Feb. 24 when the journal disclosed that it had published 19 articles on drug treatments without disclosing the authors' industry links. One of the authors was Drazen, who had accepted grants or an advisory role at eight companies.

Angell pointed to a study of depression treatments in today's issue with an unusually long list of potential conflicts. Its lead author, Brown University psychiatrist Dr. Martin Keller, said in an interview that industry money was badly needed for the large study of 681 patients at 12 sites.

He said the personal integrity of scientists helps resist conflicting pressures, and he suggested "a balance between what's reasonable and fair - and what would be so overly strict that it would be restrictive."

His study was funded by drug maker Bristol-Meyers Squibb. Company spokeswoman Tracy Furey said she does not feel that providing research grants necessarily influences the outcome of medical research. Neither she nor Keller would discuss details of personal compensation to researchers.

Underscoring the editor's message in the same issue, journal correspondent Dr. Thomas Bodenheimer of the University of California at San Francisco said 70 percent of money for clinical tests of drugs and devices now comes from industry, not government.

David Rothman, director of the Center for Society and Medicine at Columbia University, said researchers used to face heavier pressure to fudge research for reputation rather than for wealth.

"I think it is more benign to be after fame than after fortune. You're less likely to cut corners," he said.

Harvard University, with some of the most stringent restrictions on conflict of interest, is now under pressure from some researchers to ease rules, acknowledged Margaret Dale, an associate dean at its medical school. She said they argue that there is a potential even for a school like Harvard to lose researchers to more laissez-faire schools.

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