NEJM Editor Asks: Is Academic Medicine for Sale?

Those of us who represent victims of medical negligence and dangerous, defective drugs and medical devices know that a significant percentage of so-called "medical research" is nothing more than fodder prepared to help health care providers and doctors win lawsuits or help manufacturer’s reps sell product.  All to often, jurors gobble up the phony information, always assuming that no respectable professional would engage in such conduct and no respectable publication would print it.

It appears that Dr. Marcia Angell, MD., the first woman to serve as Editor of the New England Journal of Medicine. has the same concerns.  In an editorial titled "Is Academic Medicine for Sale?,"  Angell said as follows:

What is wrong with the current situation? Why shouldn’t clinical researchers have close ties to industry? One obvious concern is that these ties will bias research, both the kind of work that is done and the way it is reported. Researchers might undertake studies on the basis of whether they can get industry funding, not whether the studies are scientifically important. That would mean more research on drugs and devices and less designed to gain insights into the causes and mechanisms of disease. It would also skew research toward finding trivial differences between drugs, because those differences can be exploited for marketing. Of even greater concern is the possibility that financial ties may influence the outcome of research studies.

You can read the entire editorial here.  Unfortunately, this editorial appeared a decade ago,  and if anything the concerns about the validity of medical research are even greater today.

Thanks to Paul Luvera for reminding me about this article.