Industry Influences Medical Research, Survey Reports

Article excerpt

Academic institutions regularly engage in industry-sponsored research that falls short of the standards for research integrity established by medical journals, wrote the authors of a survey of U.S. medical schools published in the October 24, 2002, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The standards against which the survey authors measured institutional practices are those of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, whose members include editors from the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Lancet, and the New England Journal of Medicine. The standards seek to ensure the soundness of clinical research findings published in such journals, on which physicians rely to treat patients and which influence public health policy.

The committee revised its guidelines for manuscript submissions to biomedical journals in September 2001 because of worries about the integrity of clinical trials in a research environment increasingly dominated by private drug companies. The survey's authors set out to determine whether academic institutions are adhering to the new requirements, which call for assurances that clinical investigators remain independent of their sponsors, fully accountable for the design and conduct of trials, have access to all trial data, and control publications and editorial decisions. …