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Monday, February 19th 2007

In Bed…

How thoroughly do conflicts-of-interest permeate clinical trials? An LA Times article from last year looks at one study,

More than one-third of experts charged with overseeing clinical trials at medical schools and research hospitals have financial ties to companies that sell pharmaceuticals and medical devices, according to survey results released Wednesday.

The report found that nearly 7% of experts discussed or voted on clinical studies sponsored by companies they had relationships with or by competitors of those companies — a conflict of interest under federal rules.

The problem isn’t that these exist…

Eric G. Campbell, a health policy expert at Massachusetts General Hospital and lead author of the study, said it wasn’t possible to eliminate relationships between academia and industry.

Scientists rely on companies for research funding, and companies rely on academic centers to test new products.

…but that academics don’t recuse themselves or report the conflicts. Of course, unfortunately for ranting advocates of mandatory disclosure, it doesn’t seem like this is high on the list of concerns of patients,

In a related report in the journal, patients in cancer-research trials said they would not have changed their minds about participating in the studies had they known in advance about the financial ties between researchers and drug companies.