Protecting researchers from the demands of pharmaceutical industry



Professor Sergio Sismondo writes about the effects of pharmaceutical industry sponsorship on research results and how the industry manages the publication of the literature in favour of a new drug. Professor Sismondo mentions a strong bond between clinical research and pharmaceutical interest which will not be easily separated. In fact, it becomes difficult to scrutinize bias, because a criticism can be too late or weak to correct a bias. A possible solution is to not leaving researchers in the hands of pharmaceutical industry, and instead the government can look after the needs of the researchers. A government may sponsor the researchers with collected tax, but it would not be as efficient as a drug company would be, because a government has no incentive in profits. A researcher working for a drug company is more likely to afford better equipment than one working for a government.

Since the goal and hope of the public is the maintenance of the integrity, the government can sponsor those researchers who are willing to do “negative trials” – instead of separating researchers from industrial influence and its financial incentive. This way, there will be some critical input in the literature to compare the positive and negative results on drugs and any bias within those results more comprehensively. However, one may call this a naïve idea, because the publishing journals may also be influenced by the sponsorship of the drug companies. Which publisher will print manuscripts on negative trials? Who will care to read those manuscripts? In this regard, there may be no better way other than just to limit accessibility and influence of the pharmaceutical companies over data acquisition. No matter how paternalistic it may be as public health is at stake.


About Sangwoo

Korean, international student, philosophy,
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