Big Pharma influence on med schools

The following is a news analysis.

The following is an excerpt from The Vaccine Reaction.

Medical schools in the U.S. may face direct pressure from pharmaceutical companies should they question certain drugs.

A Merck employee said that he personally called medical schools to complain that faculty members had expressed concern about the drug, Vioxx.

After selling billions of dollars of the drug, Merck withdrew Vioxx from the market.

An estimated 88,000 Americans suffered heart attacks from taking Vioxx.

According to Lisa Bero, PhD, a researcher at the University of California:

They [faculty] don’t have security of employment. They’re in a more junior position, which is very vulnerable to influence from their department chair. It’s very tenuous. So, they could potentially lose their job, lose their employment. Or if they don’t, their life can be made quite miserable in terms of receiving adequate research space, not receiving administrative support or something like that.

Major pharmaceutical companies influence all stages of research at academic institutions from choosing what projects to fund to how the results will be disseminated or whether it will be released to the public at all.

The pharmaceutical companies focus their funding on research that could potentially promote their products and control what researchers may do with the results of their research by insisting on putting restrictive clauses in funding agreements.

Often funding agreements place restrictions on researchers such as preventing the publishing of findings that could potentially harm the drug company and profits.

A 2018 study determined that only one-third of academic institutions in America required that research consulting agreements be reviewed by the institution, while 35 percent of the institutions did not even think it was necessary to review the consulting agreement in the first place.

Medical school reliance on big pharmaceutical funding has only increased in recent years. Some Universities have “integrated programs” or “science hubs” with pharmaceutical corporations to facilitate the development of new drugs for pharmaceutical profit. 

These programs include GlaxoSmithKline at Harvard University, AstraZeneca at the University of Washington and Pfizer at the University of California.

In Conflicts of Interest, Institutional Corruption and Pharma: An Agenda for Reform, Professor of Law Marc A. Rodwin, JD, PhD explained that drug companies typically design a study before they contract with a university to carry out the research.

The studies developed by the same company that would profit from its success may be inherently biased in order to highlight the benefits of a drug and minimize any potential risks.

In turn, universities are aware that the drug companies funding the research want the study to promote the drug in order to get it approved by the FDA or to increase post-marketing sales.

Universities are likely aware that, if their research does not shine a favorable light on the drug, the pharmaceutical company may contract with another academic institution in the future.

It is a system that appears to be inherently biased.

Link to article here.

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3 thoughts on “Big Pharma influence on med schools”

  1. Maybe we should make a law that any research done in a public school, like a university, would be public domain information and any discoveries would only qualify for FRAND style patent licensing. No patent exclusivity options would be allowed. Perhaps even in a private lab if the research was funded with tax payer money.

    If someone wants to create a secret recipe type of product they should do it away from places of higher learning and use investors or the free market for funding.

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