Memory Hole (7 November): What else happened

Scientific Misconduct Blog Memory Hole: Events of November 7th

Glaxo mission statement

3 years ago today: More high-science from GSK

On 7 November 2004 secret plans to "double sales" of the anti-depressant Seroxat "by marketing it as a cure for a raft of less serious mental conditions" (like "shyness") were revealed with exposure of a 250-page document GlaxoSmithKline (The Guardian, 7 Nov 04). Richard Brook, chief executive of Mind who submitted the secret GSK document to MPs said it was "all about developing new conditions for that drug and demolishing the arguments of other competitors about why their drug was not any good".

GSK is a another company based on the selling of honest science, so they do actually need to engage in honest science. Actual scientists are not that impressed (See "advantages" of Seroxat). "Science" from the same pot as colonic irrigation.

Glaxo Smithkline Mission statement: "We have a challenging and inspiring mission: to improve the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer."


2 years ago today: Pfizer - science is our product

On 7 November 2005 an interesting scientific statement in the Wall Street Journal from Pfizer Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Henry A. McKinnell PhD:

"It looks like a combination of raising HDL and lowering LDL cholesterol could have dramatic impact, maybe eliminating cardiovascular risk".

Remember this is a company whose product is science. McKinnell's PhD is in business, from Stanford.

Pfizer mission statement: We demand of ourselves and others the highest ethical standards, and our products and processes will be of the highest quality. We play an active role in making every country and community in which we operate a better place to live and work, knowing that the ongoing vitality of our host nations and local communities has a direct impact on the long-term health of our business.

2 years ago today: Self regulation

On 7 November 2005 Bloomberg news published an important investigative series on commercial IRB's.

It was noted that In 1991, 80% of trials were done in academia. In 2005 most (75%) drug trials are done by commercial firms.

The FDA has farmed out much of the responsibility for overseeing safety in these tests to private companies known as institutional review boards. These boards are financed by pharmaceutical companies. The trials themselves are conducted in private experimental clinics rather than in a clinical context. "The fundamental problem is a system in which investor-owned businesses have control over the evaluation of their own products".

So, the drug industry is paying the people who do the tests, the people who write up the results, the people who analyze and filter the results, the people who regulate the system, the journals who publish the science, and the academic authors who put their names to all of this. Perhaps we should not be surprised that this has not always resulted in high quality, ethical, honest or innovative science.

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