Conflicts of Interest

"Follow the money!" activists shout. The money trail, according to this logic, always leads to lies and deception.

This puerile fallacy, argumentum ad aurum, is just a thinly disguised ad hominem attack commonly used against scientists. Instead of criticizing the quality or conclusions of the research, activists instead assault the integrity of the scientist.

For certain, money can be a corrupting influence. That's why journals require scientists to disclose financial ties to industry. But money isn't the only source of corruption. Indeed, anything that causes a person to reject evidence-based science should be considered a...

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 5.21.58 PMLast week's story about a study that examined whether negative news coverage of statin drugs caused people to stop taking them is really two stories, presenting these questions:

1- Does this cause any harm?

2- Can the results be trusted, since the companies selling the drugs gave money to one of the study authors (although he did not hide it)?

The latter is part of a much larger, ongoing issue about the validity of company-funded science and trials, and it's been a...

FDAlogo300x225_0Last July, Federal District Court Judge Leon ruled on a lawsuit brought (in 2011) by some tobacco companies, who had alleged that the makeup of the TPSAC (Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee) was unfair, consisting of several members with actual or perceived conflicts of interest. The members so identified included the Chair, Jonathan Samet, and Neal Benowitz, Jack Henningfield, and Greg Connolly. These members all had ties to industry with their own stake in the issue of tobacco and cessation, or had expressed clearly their own opinions about matters likely to come before that committee or both. (...

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 1.11.10 PMHow do you ensure that the FDA advisory panels crucial to the drug approval process have the right members?

ACSH advisor Dr. David Shlaes, the former head of infectious disease research at Wyeth, addresses these issues especially as they relate to antibiotic panels in his recent thought-provoking entry entitled Conflict of Interest vs. Competent Advice.

Dr. Shlaes discusses a study just published in...

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 1.45.31 PMThe promotion of drugs to doctors has been a hot button issue for quite some time. But now, GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty may be leading the pharmaceutical industry in a very different direction.

Two separate, but related practices are being instituted by the company: 1) Glaxo will no longer pay doctors to promote their drugs, something that has been a sore point for industry critics, who claim that this is a clear conflict of interest. This will apply especially to...

FROM THE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

For approximately a century, industry has been a powerful motivating force in the creation of new technology and the underwriting of scientific research.

Yet the last two decades have seen the development of a sweeping conflicts of interest movement aimed squarely at curtailing academic/industry biomedical research collaborations and restricting membership on government scientific advisory boards to researchers associated within dustry....