As Drug Industry's Influence over Research Grows, So Does Potential Bias

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"The New England Journal of Medicine is not alone in featuring research sponsored in large part by drug companies—it has become a common practice that reflects the growing role of industry money in research."

For drug maker GlaxoSmithKline, the 17-page article in the New England Journal of Medicine represented a coup.

The 2006 report described a trial that compared three diabetes drugs and concluded that Avandia, the company's new drug, performed best.

"We now have clear evidence from a large international study that the initial use of [Avandia] is more effective than standard therapies," a senior vice president of GlaxoSmithKline, Lawson Macartney, said in a news release.

What only careful readers of the article would have gleaned is the extent of the financial connections between the drug maker and the research. The trial had been funded by GlaxoSmithKline, and each of the 11 authors had received money from the company. Four were employees and held company stock. The other seven were academic experts who had received grants or consultant fees from the firm.

Whether these ties altered the report on Avandia may be impossible for readers to know. . .View Full Article

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