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Observations

Opinion, arguments & analyses from the editors of Scientific American

Glaxo Announcement Wont 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.

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

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