Sunday, November 25, 2012

Doctors as Drug Pushers

As drug industry’s influence over research grows, so does the potential for bias. Peter Whoriskey the Washington Post Nov 24

[Excerpted] For drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, the 17-page article in the New England Journal of Medicine represented a coup. The 2006 report described a trial that compared three diabetes drugs and concluded that Avandia, the company’s new drug, performed best.
What only careful readers of the article would have gleaned is the extent of the financial connections between the drugmaker and the research. The trial had been funded by GlaxoSmithKline, and each of the 11 authors had received money from the company. Four were employees and held company stock. The other seven were academic experts who had received grants or consultant fees from the firm.
Whether these ties altered the report on Avandia may be impossible for readers to know. 

But while sorting through the data from more than 4,000 patients, the investigators missed hints of a danger that, when fully realized four years later, would lead to Avandia’s virtual disappearance from the United States....

Majia here: Unfortunately, this type of conflict of ethics is too prevalent in American medicine.

Here is another example.

Harvard Medical School in Ethics Quandary. By Duff Wilson. The New York Times, March 3, 2009
BOSTON — In a first-year pharmacology class at Harvard Medical School, Matt Zerden grew wary as the professor promoted the benefits of cholesterol drugs and seemed to belittle a student who asked about side effects. Mr. Zerden later discovered something by searching online that he began sharing with his classmates. The professor was not only a full-time member of the Harvard Medical faculty, but a paid consultant to 10 drug companies, including five makers of cholesterol treatments. “I felt really violated,” Mr. Zerden, now a fourth-year student, recently recalled. “Here we have 160 open minds trying to learn the basics in a protected space, and the information he was giving wasn’t as pure as I think it should be.”
Majia here: I think some of the worst examples of corruption in medicine involve children and the pushing of psychiatric drugs by doctors paid by pharmaceutical companies. The posts below examine this practice, especially the second one:

Jul 14, 2011
This individual pressed me to put my son on Risperdal because it had been approved for children with autism. I told her that I had read the clinical trial information about Risperdal and I would under no circumstances place my ...
May 27, 2011
Routinely prescribing anti-psychotics began when a corrupt psychiatrist popularized the category of biopolar disorder for kids in his research, while advocating use of risperdal. Dr. Joseph Biederman, a child psychiatrist at ...
Oct 05, 2012
... my account here of how one doctor pushed drugs for the dangerous anti-psychotic drug Risperdal while receiving payola from the manufacturer:

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