This editorial from the New York Times lays out the case for why conflict-of-interest in medical research is so damaging and insidious and enumerates some measures that could go a long way toward putting a stop to it.

 

Opinion: Medicine’s Financial Contamination

Disclosure rules may seem arcane, but money corrupts medical research.

By the Editorial Board, New York Times, Sept. 14, 2018

Excerpt:

“The fall from grace last week of Dr. José Baselga, the former chief scientific officer of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, illuminated a longstanding problem of modern medicine: Potentially corrupting payments by drug and medical device makers to influential people at research hospitals are far more common than either side publicly acknowledges.

“Dr. Baselga, a giant in cancer research whose work led to the discovery of the lifesaving drug Herceptin, resigned on Thursday after The New York Times and ProPublica reported that he had repeatedly failed to properly disclose millions in industry payments.

“Decades of research and real world examples have shown that such entanglements can distort the practice of medicine in ways big and small. Even little gifts have been found to influence doctors’ prescribing habits and their perceptions of a given company’s products. Larger payments have been shown to affect the design of clinical trials and the reporting of trial results, among other things. And such financial entanglements have proved devastating to individual patients — and to society at large. The opioid epidemic, to take one recent example, was partly spread by doctors who were persuaded to ignore warning bells and prescribe these drugs liberally by companies that showered them with gifts and consulting fees.

See full editorial here.