Monday, June 9, 2008
Medical Research - Follow the Money
The use of psychiatric drugs in children has exploded over the past ten years. Powerful new medications for the treatment of attention deficit disorder and bipolar disorder have emerged on the market and we are now learning that three prominent researchers from Harvard have been paid millions by the pharmaceutical industry to promote these drugs for use.
University researchers are supposed to self-disclose consulting and speaker monies they are paid by pharmaceutical companies. They are required to supply conflict of interest forms but it appears they can write anything they want on them and there is little oversight. It has now come out that these physicians under reported their earnings by...are you ready for this....
Dr. Joseph Biederman -$1.6 million, Dr. Timothy Wilens - $1.6 million, Dr. Thomas Spencer - over $1million.
No wonder they wanted to hide it. They had lots to be ashamed of! When prominent and influential physicians publish articles and speak around the world at medical meetings, they are supposed to be completely free of bias. When the National Institute of Health (NIH) hands out taxpayers money for medical research, it is a huge conflict of interest for those same researchers to be paid from the company whose product is being studied.
This type of consultant pay is all too common in the medical world and we owe thanks to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) for pushing this into the limelight.
Harvard's Mass General Hospital administered these grants and won $287 million grants in 2005. They didn't push too hard for self disclosure and there is a lot of hand washing and spin control going on, now that the truth has been dragged into the light.
To quote from the New York Times, "In the last 25 years, drug and device makers have displaced the federal government as the primary source of research financing, and industry support is vital to many university research programs. But as corporate research executives recruit the brightest scientists, their brethren in marketing departments have discovered that some of these same scientists can be terrific pitchmen."
For the multi-billion dollar drug industry, those millions given to the "Doctor Pitchmen" was money well spent.
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