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Glaxo Announcement Won’t End Biomedicine’s Conflicts of Interest


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Image: Wikimedia Commons

GlaxoSmithKline broke with industry practice and announced that it will no longer pay scientists to promote its drugs, reports the New York Times. In an industry rife with conflicts of interest, this move is welcome news for consumers.

It is unlikely, however, to have much effect. Entanglements between researchers and drug companies are thick. Drug firms have many ways of enriching favored doctors and researchers—they include them as members of lucrative speakers bureaus, provide ghostwriting services for peer-reviewed papers, and pay big consulting fees.  “Peer-reviewed journals are littered with studies showing how drug industry money is subtly undermining scientific objectivity,” wrote journalist Charles Seife his story “Is Drug Research Trustworthy,” an investigation published in the December 2012 issue of Scientific American, and which we have brought in front of our paywall here for a short period of time.

Fred Guterl About the Author: Fred Guterl is the executive editor of Scientific American and author of Fate of the Species (Bloomsbury). Follow on Twitter @fredguterl.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. comefullcircle 6:04 pm 12/17/2013

    It’s not the Scientists we need to worry about – of paramount importance is the relationship between Physicians and Big Pharma. A Physician who is on the Board of Directors at a pharmaceutical company (or who owns stocks there) has a vested interest in pushing the drugs that company makes. And it is the physician, not the scientist, who writes the prescriptions for the drugs. As well, it’s the physician, not the scientist; who is handing out all those physician’s samples that the pharmaceutical companies give him to hand out. “The first one’s free”, and all that stuff.

    When the pharmaceutical industry and the physicians who are in bed with that industry (figuratively speaking), can embrace the concept that their purpose should not be dedicated to solely making money, but rather to an ethical directive of health for the masses, then that would be noteworthy. But I venture to say that is an unattainable endeavor for them. To draw an analogy: once an animal tastes blood, they’re ruined forever. The industry makes so much money that they wouldn’t want to live without it all – regardless of whose expense it’s at.
    Let’s face it: they’re in it for the Almighty Buck – and they just don’t care about anything but that.

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  2. 2. Warover 6:55 pm 12/17/2013

    My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do,,,,,Rush64.ℭOM

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  3. 3. scientific earthling 7:40 pm 12/17/2013

    Regulating the maximum to minimum pay ratios across the board is the only way to end unbridled greed.
    Unethical behavior should be punished publicly & harshly.

    No laws that make it illegal to talk about someone who has gone to prison for white collar crime. (Australia Commonwealth Crimes Act – prison sentence for violation)

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