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Competing Interests in Medical Research

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Remember that when conducting vaccine-related research, regardless of the perspective, it's always a good idea to track competing interests and funding sources.

Conflicts of interest are not a "conspiracy theory." They are actually present in the majority of studies, and they do indeed affect research outcomes.

http://www.cochrane.org/features/industry-sponsorship-and-research-outcome

http://www.bmj.com/content/325/7358/249

http://ccnmtl.columbia.edu/projects/rcr/rcr_conflicts/foundation/

Outdated but still a great analysis:

http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/archive/coi/angell.htm

I find it helpful to track down the CVs or other biographical information on a study's authors. If you want to cut straight to the chase, do a search on somebody's name along with the name of a drug company, (e.g. Offit, Merck). For example, here is a bio for Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University vaccine researcher who is quoted in an ABC story as saying that states with exemptions need to "tighten up" and take away the right to informed consent:

http://www.reachmd.com/xmradioguest.aspx?pid=2948

Below is a link to the BMJs policy on declaring competing interests. This can be a useful guide on the types of competing interests that can affect research.

http://www.bmj.com/about-bmj/resources-reviewers/competing-interests

When pediatricians and public health officials whine to the media about us bad widda mommies using the Internet, they'd do well to know that this is the kind of stuff that we're reading. winky.gif

Good luck with your research!
post #2 of 5

Turquesa - really good point.

 

Important to remember that funding does not immediately mean a conflict of interest - but it can be used as a flag to apply more skeptical reading to what you're reading. 

 

It is also very important to do some background research on sources when you read vaccine information online. 

 

The WHO has a list of things to look for in websites giving advice on vaccination: http://www.who.int/vaccine_safety/good_vs_sites/en/

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hmm. As delineated in the links above, conflicting funding does automatically and by definition constitute a competing interest.  Now if you say that it doesn't necessarily mean that study is worth dismissing or that a competing interest has been exploited, then you and I are in agreement.  However, the research does indicate that in most cases, competing interests have a tainting impact on data. In Dr. Angell's words,

 

Quote:

 

";;;there is nothing 'potential' about a conflict of interest. Either it exists or it doesn’t. What is potential is whether a conflict leads to bad research."

 

In fact, speaking broadly of medical research, sometimes the concern isn't over the data you're seeing so much as the data hidden from the public: http://www.salon.com/2013/01/27/bad_pharma_drug_research_riddled_with_half_truths_omissions_lies/?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=pulsenews

 

 

Quote:

Because researchers are free to bury any result they please, patients are exposed to harm on a staggering scale throughout the whole of medicine, from research to practice. Doctors can have no idea about the true effects of the treatments they give.

 

It's a crying shame that the industry behaves in such an unethical and untrustworthy manner.  But I see a glimmer of hope with all of the physicians and other critics who have the courage and integrity to blow the whistle.

 

Thank you for posting the WHO link. That list is a tall order for any website, and the anti-vax and "skeptic" sites are nowhere close to fulfilling it.  Given that it's a rare find, it's probably best for parents to hone an ability to cross-reference everything they read, including tracking down primary sources, identifying competing interests, and reading conflicting perspectives.

post #4 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Turquesa View Post
It's a crying shame that the industry behaves in such an unethical and untrustworthy manner.  But I see a glimmer of hope with all of the physicians and other critics who have the courage and integrity to blow the whistle.

 

Thank you for posting the WHO link. That list is a tall order for any website, and the anti-vax and "skeptic" sites are nowhere close to fulfilling it.  Given that it's a rare find, it's probably best for parents to hone an ability to cross-reference everything they read, including tracking down primary sources, identifying competing interests, and reading conflicting perspectives.

Thanks for noting that one has to cross-reference things. I am glad you see hope in some that the medical industry may be changing, although I don't see it yet. The whole system is built upon lies, unfortunately. 

post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 

I'm bumping this up because I found some other great resources on this topic.

 

1. Dollars for Docs is a project of ProPublica, a non-profit organization of journalists working in the public interests.  When you're screening vaccine research for conflicts of interests, you may scan the database for doctors who have a history of accepting drug company payments for speaking, consulting, meals, travel, etc.  http://projects.propublica.org/docdollars/

 

It's also a great way to check on your own provider.  :wink  Keep in mind, however, that medical researchers aren't always doctors.  Sometimes they are epidemiologists, microbiologists, etc., so even if they have conflicts of interests, they won't appear in Dollars for Docs.

 

2. Here is a recent British Medical Journal expose about corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, which is in charge of researching vaccines before they go to market and mandate.  http://www.cochrane.dk/research/corporatecrime/Corporate-crime-long-version.pdf

 

Happy researching!













 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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