Clinical data used to approve new prescription drugs or to back marketing on a drug is likely soiled by financial ties between the person writing the research and the companies using it to their gain.
According to a Washington Post report, the financial influence of pharmaceutical companies has extended to the people paid to conduct allegedly unbiased analysis of drugs and whether they’ll cause serious side effects of if they’re effective.
Today, the company with the new drug is usually the one paying to have the research conducted. In some instances, this can have disastrous results that put thousands of lives at risk.
In one specific case, one company was able to influence 11 researchers with cash and other endowments to produce research that showed Avandia was more effective in regulating blood glucose levels than other popular drug treatments and further, there was no mention of any dangerous side effects.
The study was reviewing data from an ongoing clinical trial of Avandia and based on the results at that point, the study found that Avandia was more effective than other drug treatments but those researchers apparently missed data – data they probably should have noticed – that pointed to the drug’s Achilles heel, its link to heart attack and death.
Instead of reporting on this trend in the trial of Avandia and including that in the study that GlaxoSmithKline eventually used to market the drug to become of the most widely-prescribed in the U.S. at one point, the study was published without it and Avandia became part of millions of Americans’ drug diet. The result was at least 83,000 heart attacks and deaths, many of which likely could have been avoided if that study had pointed out this one glaring side effect of the drug.
Of the 11 people working as researchers on that study, all 11 were in some way financially tied to the drug maker. According to the Post report, “Four were employees and held company stock. The other seven were academic experts who had received grants or consultant fees from the firm.”