Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Drug Companies Buy Favorable Government Recommendations

Getting accurate, nonbiased information on medications appears to be getting increasingly difficult in George Bush's America. The recent problems with COX II inhibitors (and possibly NSAID's) may just be the tip of the iceberg. The LA Times has been investigating the influence of pharmaceutical industry money on those who set medical standards at the National Institute of Health.

Here's a few of the examples the LA Times cited today:
• Dr. P. Trey Sunderland III, a senior psychiatric researcher, took $508,050 in fees and related income from Pfizer Inc. at the same time that he collaborated with Pfizer — in his government capacity — in studying patients with Alzheimer's disease. Without declaring his affiliation with the company, Sunderland endorsed the use of an Alzheimer's drug marketed by Pfizer during a nationally televised presentation at the NIH in 2003.

• Dr. Lance A. Liotta, a laboratory director at the National Cancer Institute, was working in his official capacity with a company trying to develop an ovarian cancer test. He then took $70,000 as a consultant to the company's rival. Development of the cancer test stalled, prompting a complaint from the company. The NIH backed Liotta.

• Dr. Harvey G. Klein, the NIH's top blood transfusion expert, accepted $240,200 in fees and 76,000 stock options over the last five years from companies developing blood-related products. During the same period, he wrote or spoke out about the usefulness of such products without publicly declaring his company ties.


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