In a nutshell, the writer tells the story of how in 2006 Big Pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) managed to land a glowing 17-page report about their diabetes blockbuster Avandia in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), even though:
- there was apparently clear evidence linking Avandia to increased risk of heart attack and death,
- the drug trial had been funded by GSK,
- all 11 authors of the report received money from GSK.
A Washington Post review found that the NEJM published 73 articles about new drugs between August 2011 and August 2012. Here’s how Whoriskey characterized the literature over those 12 months:
Of those articles, 60 were funded by a pharmaceutical company, 50 were co-written by drug company employees and 37 had a lead author, typically an academic, who had previously accepted outside compensation from the sponsoring drug company in the form of consultant pay, grants or speaker fees.My sense of smell is non-existent these days, but even I get a whiff of something unsavory here. Is Big Pharma’s drive for profit superceding public welfare?