Bob's Your Uncle

  • by: |
  • 09/14/2005

The following from the meek and mild mind of Bob Goldberg, PhD …

Only in the NY Times can a recusal to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest be treated as evidence as malfeasance of a sort. The Times, like most of the media never places its j’accuse in any context. So for instance, its story about the BMS diabetes drugs ignores the fact that the treatment targets a particular receptor (PPAR) that increases insulin sensitivity. It was only confirmed as a target by showing that people with a certain mutation of a gene regulating the PPAR receptor. Thus down the road it will be likely that for people with this variation, the BMS drug will be one of the best medicines for diabetes since it is the only one correcting for the genetic defect. This will be millions of patients who will get their insulin levels right when they could not with other drugs. All this is somehow over the heads of the great journalistic minds at the NYT. Perhaps this is why the writer only focuses on the ‘serious cardiovascular risks’ as opposed to trying to draw a nefarious link between and Vioxx. And perhaps this is why it ignored the fact that the risk is rare (less than 1 percent of all patients) which makes it as risky as other diabetes drugs on the market. Witholding that information probably had nothing to do with the goal of trying to explain the approval of the drug as a product of the ethically compromised panel. Interestingly, the NY Times failed to have either Gardiner Harris or Stephanie Saul cover advisory committee REJECTIONS of high profile drugs put forth by Johnson and Johnson, Abbott and Pfizer for cancer and osteoporosis respectively. Why? Because the votes don’t square with the conspiratorial model of drug approval they advance. Nor can the NY Times explain why it failed to mention the industry consulting of one advisory committee member, gastroenterologist Bryan Cryer, when quoting him in an article that the blood thinner Plavix might cause stomach ulcers but does note his financial ties in a piece alleging his vote to keep Celebrex on the market was bought and paid for. All this underscores the fact that ideology, pursued without regard to the truth or accuracy, turns people into idiots. No better example is that of Maurice Hinchey a congressman who would bar Nobel Prize winners in medicine from advising the FDA if they consulted for drug companies. Since all of them have, the Nobel Laureates are to be considered bias and compromised, according to the twisted logic of Hinchey and the NY Times. By extension which should disregard Pasteur’s path breaking insights into the role bacteria play in causing disease and his vaccine developments because he was largely funded by the French beer and wine industry. Sadly, based on the NY Times articles, Hinchey was able to get an amendment passed that would ban every researcher of any note from helping the FDA if they had done any consulting with companies. My thinking is that we should apply this thinking to all fields. Accordingly, Hinchey should recuse himself from making any statement or voting on any bill that involves tort reform since he receives so much PAC money from the trial. And NY Times reporters who receive a $500 bonus for writing such articles should disclose as such. Ironically, FDA advisory committee members have asked for more disclosure of their financial holdings in an effort to ally concerns. But view this too has not been disclosed by Hinchey or the New York Times. That alone underscores an important consideration which we should weigh in evaluating their claims: Intellectual or ideological bias may be more difficult to ferret out than financial conflicts, but they can be politically more destructive.


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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