From Ron Epstein
Republican senator Chuck Grassley has made it his mission to shake up the cosy relationship between doctors, researchers and the pharmaceutical industry. Now he is introducing legislation to force drugs companies to disclose the payments they make to doctors. He tells Jim Giles why he has chosen to be a troublemaker
Does it really matter that some academics and doctors “forget” to declare their income from drug companies?
The public relies on the advice of doctors and has a right to know about financial relationships between those doctors and the companies that make the pharmaceuticals they prescribe. The same goes for leading researchers, as they influence the practice of medicine. If the payments are transparent, I believe that people who have close connections with a company will be a little more cautious about the extent to which they push one drug over another. US taxpayers should also know as they spend billions of dollars on prescription drugs and devices through Medicare and Medicaid.
Last year, you made claims about a psychiatrist using grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to test a drug. You alleged he had not properly disclosed the stock he held in the company that owned the drug – claims which he has denied and which his employer has cleared him of. Can you tell me about that?
I am not able to comment on the specifics of any cases. But I can say that my discovery of undisclosed financial relationships between drug companies and researchers has put pressure on the NIH. It’s a trustee of $24 billion in federal grants each year. It needs to make sure that those receiving its grants manage conflicts of interest.
Keep reading Exposing the links at New Scientist→