'Independent' researchers have shares in drug companies they're testing
About the author:
Bryan Hubbard - an article of WDDTY
You can read this article directly on https://www.wddty.com/news/2018/09/independent-researchers-have-shares-in-drug-companies-theyre-testing.html
September 14th 2018 in Cancer, Drugs
Independent drug trials aren't always quite so independent. Researchers are still not revealing the pay-outs they're getting from drug companies whose drugs they are testing—and in some cases they even have shares in the company.
Around a third of researchers are not disclosing their financial conflicts of interest despite the enormous pressure from medical journals for transparency in clinical trials.
Some researchers get speaking fees, others receive 'research grants' and others hold shares in the drug company whose drug they are reviewing, but which they are not revealing in their research that is presented as being independent.
A review of the work of 344 cancer researchers discovered they had received a total of $216m in payments from drug companies in just over a year—and which they had never disclosed.
But they are under no obligation to reveal their connection to the drug company. "It's an honour system. The journals ask the authors to make these disclosures, but there's no legal force behind it," said Erick Turner of the Oregon Health & Science University.
He and his researchers looked at the Open Payments Database, a US system where all drug company pay-outs are supposed to be recorded, and compared them to the disclosures made in published clinical trials of cancer drugs.
It's known that drug company pay-outs influence doctors in their prescribing decisions, and the researchers are concerned the same could also be true for scientists conducting clinical trials.
(Source: JAMA Oncology, 2018; doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2018.3738)
BackgroundThe Australian Government research Institute, NHMRC, made headlines with their 2015 report declaring Homeopathy to be ineffective for any condition. What NHMRC never told anyone was that the report they published was not their original findings. It was a SECOND attempt. The FIRST report they produced was completely buried. Then they did the whole thing again and published the SECOND report.
Join the growing number of people around the world calling for the NHMRC to release the FIRST report.
Read the full story and sign the petition on this web site : https://releasethefirstreport.com/
Homeopathy: No better than placebo?In March 2015, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) published an Information Paper on homeopathy, commonly referred to as ‘The Australian Report’, essentially declaring homeopathy to be no better than placebo.
This document concludes that “…there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective”.
This report triggered headlines around the world falsely suggesting NHMRC had found that homeopathy doesn’t work for any condition, and was simply a placebo.
However, it wasn’t until after the report had been released, and headlines generated, that the alarming flaws in NHMRC’s approach to the Homeopathy review were brought to light. The most serious scientific breach… NHMRC did the review twice, only publishing their second attempt.
The Missing Report“I am impressed by the rigor, thoroughness and systematic approach given to this evaluation [….] Overall, a lot of excellent work has gone into this review and the results are presented in a systematic, unbiased and convincing manner.”
Prof Fred Mendelsohn
Member of NHMRC’s Expert Committee
The missing first report
NHMRC’s investigation into Homeopathy ran from 2010 to 2015, aiming to review the evidence on homeopathy to inform the Australian public.
NHMRC worked with an external contractor – a respected Australian University – from April 2012 to August 2012. The report they produced was called ‘A Systematic Review of the Evidence on the Effectiveness of Homeopathy’.
This review, paid for by Australian tax payers, was never made public and NHMRC continues to refuse to release it, despite repeated Freedom of Information requests. After terminating the contract with the Australian University, a second external contractor – OptumInsight – was hired to do the Homeopathy review again from December 2012-March 2015.
Second time lucky?Having binned the first report, the second time around NHMRC invented a completely new way of analysing the evidence which has never been used before by any research team in the world.
NHMRC decided that for trials to be ‘reliable’ they had to have at least 150 participants and reach an unusually high threshold for quality. This is despite the fact that NHMRC itself routinely conducts studies with less than 150 participants.
These unprecedented and unscientific rules meant the results of 171 of the trials were completely disregarded as being ‘unreliable’, leaving only 5 trials NHMRC considered to be ‘reliable’. As they assessed all 5 of these trials as negative, this explains how NHMRC could conclude that there was no ‘reliable’ evidence, and falsely justify claims that homeopathy is no more than a placebo.
Why?NHMRC are world experts in reviewing evidence, conducting reviews as a matter of routine.
So, if there is truly no reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective for any condition, wouldn’t they have got this result just by conducting the review once, in the usual way, using a standard widely-accepted scientific method. One has to ask:
What can we do?The disturbing story of the Australian Report suggests that, contrary to the insistence of anti-homeopathy ‘skeptic’ groups and many media stories, there isreliable positive evidence that homeopathy works for some medical conditions, which is not being reported to the public.
As homeopathy continues to grow in popularity globally, the public needs to know what evidence exists for this treatment, so they can make informed choices about their healthcare.
An Ombudsman challenge is currently in progress, requiring NHMRC to answer charges of scientific misconduct, procedural breaches, bias and conflict of interest. It is great to see democracy in action, holding NHMRC to account, but in the meantime the Australian Report continues to do unfair damage to the sector.
This is why the public needs to see the first review. To fully understand the Australian Report that is having such a profound impact around the world, we need to see what answers they got the first time they did it.
Demand that NHMRC RELEASE THE FIRST REPORT.
For a full breakdown of the flaws in NHMRC’s Report on Homeopathy, take a look at the analysis carried out by the Homeopathy Research Institute.