I thought I was already skeptical enough, but perhaps not.
I had at least held out some hope for academics.
There was an article in the Washington Post last week that underscores a lot of these issues. Comparison of Schizophrenia Drugs Often Favors Firm Funding Study
(I think you have to register to read the article but it's free.) I thought it closely paralleled many of the issues in MS drug development. Here are a lot of excerpts (right up your alley Harry
Such studies make up the bulk of the evidence that American doctors rely on to prescribe $10 billion worth of antipsychotic medications each year....
the federal government recently compared a broader range of drugs in typical schizophrenia patients in a lengthy trial, two medications that stood out were cheaper drugs not under patent....
Reliance on industry-sponsored studies is not limited to psychiatry, but experts say the problem is exacerbated in areas of medicine where the goal of trials is not to demonstrate cures but to measure symptomatic relief, which allows more latitude in how the results are interpreted and marketed.
Now a growing chorus of experts is asking whether the research establishment needs to be reoriented toward publicly funded studies that might better guide clinical decisions and the billions of tax dollars the government itself spends on treatment....
He and Rennie also questioned academic researchers' role in these studies...."The only reason that the company wants a non-company person as an author is to give credence to an advertisement. . . . The whole entire paper from start to finish is an advertisement. It is a much more subtle and telling ad than anything they can publish as an ad."
By focusing on the horse race -- which drug is marginally better -- industry studies obscure the reality that better drugs are needed overall, agreed Rennie, who is a professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco.
"Finding the 100th similar antipsychotic drug is not where the research should be," he said. "It should be to develop new drugs, not 'me, too' drugs."
But Uwe Reinhardt, a political economist at Princeton,....."I have come to believe a lot of inefficiency is quite deliberate and supported by Congress," he said. "One person's inefficiency is another person's income."
I guess the good news is that at least the need to reorient the research in the US is getting some attention.
Take care everyone.