New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, relates the story of Andrew Francesco, a boy who began taking Ritalin at age five and died from complications with Seroquel when he was fifteen. His father, a former pharmaceutical industry executive, reveals the industry’s greed in his memoir “Overmedicated and Undertreated.” Now the industry is pushing for a first-amendment right to market its drugs for off-label uses.
A massive number of meta-analyses of antidepressant clinical trials have financial conflicts of interest and are unduly influenced by pharmaceutical companies, according to a review to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. Researchers also found that meta-analyses with industry ties almost never report any negative findings in their abstracts.
The Scientific American reports on a new analysis of antidepressant trials revealing that the vast majority of meta-analyses have industry links and suppress negative results. The results show that meta-analyses with industry support were much more favorable to the drugs than independent studies. For example, “meta-analyses by industry employees were 22 times less likely to have negative statements about a drug than those run by unaffiliated researchers.”
The recent research scandals out of the University of Minnesota’s Department of Psychiatry may be alarming, but they are not new. Back in the 1990s, when the university was working its way towards a crippling probation by the National Institutes of Health (for yet another episode of misconduct (this time in the Department of Surgery), the Department of Psychiatry hosted two spectacular cases of research wrongdoing, both of which resulted in faculty members being disqualified from conducting research by the FDA.
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