Research Conflicts Found
of university-based medical researchers receive funding from drug
companies - ties that sometimes distort study results, according
to a review done by two researchers with industry connections
of their own.
Yale University researchers Justin Bekelman and Dr. Cary Gross
said they found "strong and consistent evidence that industry-sponsored
research tends to draw pro-industry conclusions."
"Anecdotal reports suggest that industry may alter, obstruct or
even stop publication of negative studies," they said. "Such restrictions
seem counter productive to the arguments in favor of academic-industry
collaboration, namely encouraging knowledge and technology transfer."
While industry influence on research has made headlines in recent
years and prompted calls for reform, the new analysis attempts
to quantify the prevalence by combining results from 37 previous
studies on the extent and effect of such ties. The studies included
data through 2000.
The results suggest that roughly two-thirds of the nation's academic
institutions hold stock in start-up companies that sponsor research
performed at the same institution.
The review says that the industry share of investment in U.S.
biomedical research increased from about 32 percent in 1980 to
62 percent in 2000. The government's role has shrunk.
Gross has served as a consultant and scientific advisory board
member to Astra-Zeneca, and Bekelman has done consulting for Turbogenomics
"Our industry ties may give us a little more credibility" in writing
the review, Gross said. "We're trying to look at what is known
and isn't known about industry collaboration but not from a perspective
that industry is evil and up to no good."
Industry ties are vital and have resulted in important medical
advances, but they need to be better disclosed and better monitored,
the two researchers said.
Their review appears in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical
Association. JAMA has published numerous recent articles on the
issue and joined several other major medical journals two years
ago in strengthening financial disclosure requirements for research
"The vast majority of university medical centers are very much
aware that they've got to tighten up their oversight to make sure
they don't undermine public confidence," said Dr. David Korn,
senior vice president for research policy at the Association of
American Medical Colleges. "I do think the community is beginning
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