As Government Funding of Drug Research Stagnates, Big Pharmaceutical Companies Move in with Distorted Test Results

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

With the federal government spending less these days on medical-related research, pharmaceutical companies have stepped in with their own drug-friendly assessments that often mask dangers posed by new treatments.


Since the mid-1980s, research spending by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been eclipsed by funding from Big Pharma. In 2011, drug makers allocated $39 billion on research, while the NIH spent $31 billion.


Consequently, prestigious research publications like the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) have increasingly published drug company-funded studies that speak well of new drugs put on the market by the very same companies.


A Washington Post review of the 73 NEMJ articles on new drugs published over one year (August 2011 to August 2012) found that “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.”


One example cited was a 2006 NEMJ story about a clinical trial that compared three diabetes drugs, including GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) new product, Avandia.


The trial, which said Avandia was the best of the three drugs, was financed by GSK, and each of the 11 authors had received money from the company, either through stock earnings, academic grants or consulting fees.


Avandia was sold until 2010, when it was pulled after experts found it increased the risk of heart attacks. According to the Justice Department, “GSK failed to include certain safety data about Avandia, a diabetes drug, in reports to the FDA that are meant to allow the FDA to determine if a drug continues to be safe for its approved indications and to spot drug safety trends. The missing information included data regarding certain post-marketing studies, as well as data regarding two studies undertaken in response to European regulators’ concerns about the cardiovascular safety of Avandia.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

As Drug Industry’s Influence Over Research Grows, So Does The Potential For Bias (by Peter Whoriskey, Washington Post)

Glaxo Agrees to Pay Record $3 Billion Settlement for Fraud and Hiding Drug Safety Data (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Experts Related to Drug Makers Promote Narcotics for Seniors in Pain (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Doctors who Earn Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars Speaking for Drug Companies (by David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

FDA Panel Votes to Restrict Billion-Dollar Drug, Avandia (by David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


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