A study to be published June 15th 2009 in the journal Cancer has highlighted what is essentially corruption in the science of cancer research. It’s called “conflict of interest“: but you and I would call it corruption, bribery or malicious threats. Not nice words for a not nice phenomenon, which I’ve known about for years.
What it amounts to is that cancer researchers are likely to “find” (or invent) favorable outcomes for research which is paid for by the major drug cartels. Many doctors engaged in research are on stipends from the very company which produces the product they are supposedly “testing”.
Some take secret bribes, of course, but then so do Congressmen!
Some investigators at major hospitals and medical schools have their salary paid, indirectly, via drug company funding to their hospital or laboratory post. Who has the guts to rock the boat when it pays the mortgage? Ridiculous idea, you say; responsible drug companies would never threaten the jobs of honest researchers. Well, if you are naïve enough to think that, wise up. Not only do drug companies threaten to get uncooperative (i.e. honest and objective) scientists removed from their post–they actually do it.
The analysis, published in the June 15 issue of Cancer and headed by the University of Michigan, looked at 1,534 supposedly-scientific cancer studies published in eight authoritative journals, including Cancer, the New England Journal of Medicine and the Lancet. Here’s what they found:
- Randomized clinical trials that assessed patient survival were more likely to report positive survival outcomes when a conflict of interest was present.
- 29% of studies had conflicts of interest (including industrial funding), and 17% actually declared industry funding.
- Industry-funded studies focused on treatment in 62% of cases, whereas only 36% of studies done without industry funding focused on treatment.
- Almost half (47%) of studies done without industry funding looked at epidemiology, prevention, risk factors, screening or diagnostic methods. Only one fifth of industry-funded studies looked at these areas.
Any guesses why the drug industry would slew research away from disease prevention? I’ll bet you know.
Original article: Reshma Jagsi et al. Frequency, nature, effects and correlates of conflicts of interest in published clinical cancer research. Cancer 115:2783-2791 .