Article Highlights Potential for Bias in Industry-Sponsored Research

A report by The Washington Post focuses on the process that led to the approval of Avandia, a diabetes drug developed by GlaxoSmithKline that was later pulled from the market after its serious health risks became publicly known. “The way that company officials employed academics—and the prestige of the nation’s top journal—to promote the idea that the drug was safe has received little public scrutiny,” the article states, “and a full account offers a window into the corporate decisions underlying today’s drug research.”

Over a year-long period ending in August, the New England Journal of Medicine published 73 articles on original studies of new drugs, encompassing drugs approved by the FDA since 2000 and experimental drugs, according to a review by The Washington Post. Of those articles, 60 were funded by a pharmaceutical company, 50 were co-written by drug company employees, and 37 had a lead author, typically an academic, who had previously accepted outside compensation from the sponsoring drug company in the form of consultant pay, grants, or speaker fees.

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