Sunday, April 20, 2008

Open Science--A Medical Research Example

This week the editors of the Journal of the American Medical Assn. published an editorial criticizing the influence of the pharmaceutical and medical devices industries on research.

In an article this month, Catherine D. DeAngelis and Phil B. Fontanarosa write:

The profession of medicine, in every aspect—clinical, education, and research—has been inundated with profound influence from the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. This has occurred because physicians have allowed it to happen, and it is time to stop.

Two articles in this issue of JAMA provide a glimpse of one company's apparent misrepresentation of research data and its manipulation of clinical research articles and clinical reviews; such information and articles influence the education and clinical practice of physicians and other health professionals.
This editorial and the specific research studies reported in the April 16, 2008 issue of JAMAfunders, scientists and perhaps scientific journal editors have worked together to report favorable scientific findings that distort the real scientific evidence for the effectiveness of drugs and other medical devices.

This is stunning and this practice harms all legitimate efforts at scientific understanding. The editors of JAMA go on to suggest 11 basic practices that would help to prevent this type of scientific fraud. What is amazing about these recommendations is that they are not currently in practice. Here a couple of their recommendations:
provide compelling evidence that indicates that corporate
All individuals named as authors on articles must fulfill authorship criteria. Journals should require each author to report his or her specific contributions to the article, and should consider publishing these contributions.

All individuals who were involved with the manuscript or study but who do not qualify for authorship (such as those who provided writing assistance) must be named in the acknowledgment section of the article, with reporting of their specific affiliations and contributions and whether they were compensated for those contributions.

All journals must disclose all pertinent relationships of all authors with any for-profit companies, and must publish all funding sources for each article.

To maintain a healthy distance from industry influence, professional organizations and providers of continuing medical education courses should not condone or tolerate for-profit companies having any input into the content of educational materials or providing funding or sponsorship for medical education programs. Individual physicians must be free of financial influences of pharmaceutical and medical device companies including serving on speaker's bureaus or accepting gifts.
These reports on scientific fraud make a strong case for the need to make scientific research more open. It is important to be able to have a better idea about the working process in science labs so that others can examine the methods and processes. Publications increasingly need to include the data, the technical details of the data analysis and other materials that provide the basis for scientific conclusions. These steps will make it more difficult for scientists to cover up faulty science.

1 comment:

A CME provider said...

There seems to be a little disconnect in the facts where they recommend that "...providers of continuing medical education courses should not condone or tolerate for-profit companies having any input into the content of educational materials..." .

Under the terms of our accreditation by the ACCME as continuing medical education (CME)providers we already have very clear rules that define a separation of CME from commercial influence.

What they are proposing already exists!