Well­ness Arti­cles

Con­flicts of Inter­est Affect Gov­ern­ment Drug Rec­om­men­da­tions

The Octo­ber 16, 2004 edi­tion of the USA Today car­ried a story that exposes the vast con­flicts of inter­est many gov­ern­ment doc­tors have in their capac­ity of mak­ing rec­om­men­da­tions that affect the health of the public.

The story starts by expos­ing that a num­ber of the famous doc­tors who advised the gov­ern­ment recently on new cho­les­terol guide­lines for the pub­lic, were also closely tied to the com­pa­nies that make the cho­les­terol drugs. The USA Today arti­cle noted that eight of the nine doc­tors were mak­ing money from the very com­pa­nies whose cholesterol-​lowering drugs they were urg­ing more Amer­i­cans to take. Two of the doc­tors even owned stock in the com­pa­nies. Two oth­ers went to work for drug com­pa­nies shortly after work­ing on the cho­les­terol guide­lines. Another was a senior gov­ern­ment sci­en­tist who moon­lighted for 10 com­pa­nies and even serves on one of their boards.

Dr. Scott Grundy, a Uni­ver­sity of Texas South­west­ern Med­ical cen­tre car­di­ol­o­gist who headed the cho­les­terol panel, noted, “The gov­ern­ment is not pro­duc­ing drugs. All the big statin tri­als have been paid for by the com­pa­nies.” This brings into ques­tion the motives behind rec­om­men­da­tions where those rec­om­men­da­tions could ben­e­fit the very doc­tors who work for the gov­ern­ment and are mak­ing those recommendations.

The arti­cle notes that the drug indus­try spent $2 bil­lion in 2001 on events for doc­tors. This fig­ure was dou­ble the amount they spent just five years ago. Dr. Jerome Kas­sirer, for­mer editor-​in-​chief of the New Eng­land Jour­nal of Med­i­cine, writes in his new book, “On the Take”, “The time has come to ask whether all of the money float­ing around med­i­cine has cre­ated a pat­tern of corruption.”

The USA Today arti­cle did inter­view a num­ber of the doc­tors on the panel. They all admit­ted hav­ing ties to the drug com­pa­nies but stated that it did not affect their rec­om­men­da­tions and that the money they received was in most cases minimal.

The arti­cle also inter­viewed a num­ber of other doc­tors who had no ties to the drug com­pa­nies and said they would be more than will­ing to serve on the rec­om­men­da­tion pan­els. Dr. Frank Gold, who in 30 years as a car­di­ol­o­gist has taken no con­sult­ing or lec­ture fees from indus­try stated, “I’m squeaky-​clean,” he says, and “would jump at the oppor­tu­nity” to serve on a

Ran­dom Article

A news story on Feb­ru­ary 13, 2007 appeared on CBS-​11 News out of Dal­las — Fort Worth as well as on their web­site, that

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