Marketing to Professionals: We Asked, They Told

Editors tell us how their readers react to pharma-funded research.
Feb 01, 2005
By Pharmaceutical Executive Editors

Over the past year, pharma's ethics have been called into question. Certainly, consumers' perception of industry is at an all time low—mostly because of pricing. But how have the research-related issues of the previous year, such as the release of negative clinical trial information and safety concerns with Vioxx (rofecoxib) and now Celebrex (celecoxib), affected the way physicians think about the integrity of pharma's trial results?

Pharm Exec took the pulse of healthcare providers by polling important and relevant gatekeepers in this debate—medical journal editors. We asked them if their professional readership cares if a clinical study is sponsored by a pharma company. The results are far from surprising. Opinions span the gamut when it comes to who should be conducting the research and the proper protocol for reporting it. But they provide a window into the minds of professionals who can help frame pharma policy.

Q: Do physicians care if a clinical trial is sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry

CORTLANDT FORUM Dr. Patrick G. O'Connor

Dr. Patrick G. O'Connor
Senior medical editor, and professor of Medicine and chief Of general internal Medicine at yale.

Cortlandt Forum
IT IS CRITICAL for physicians to know who is sponsoring all or part of any clinical study they read or use to make clinical decisions. This is true regardless of whether a study is funded by a drug company, the government, private foundation, or any other source. Funding, from whatever source, could inevitably introduce some element of bias into the conduct and reporting of a clinical trial. The biases can impact all phases of a clinical study from inception to publication of results. Thus, physicians need to understand who is supporting a given study so that they can take potential biases into account when interpreting results. This includes not only the source of funding for a particular study, but also the roles that the study investigators may have in other related activities for industry-supported activities such as honoraria, consultancies, stock ownership, grants, patents, and royalties.

PATIENT CARE Deborah Kaplan

Deborah Kaplan

Patient care
THE PATIENT CARE board of editors agrees that the potential for bias is very high and that clinicians factor a bias component into their assessment of a study. One board member states that there would be more unbiased, well-designed studies if the government supported more research instead of the pharma companies. Another says pharma-sponsored trials are set up in such a way that the drug has a minimal chance of failing.

CONTEMPORARY OB/GYN Charles J. Lockwood, Md

Charles J. Lockwood, Md

Contemporary OB/GYN
IN LIGHT OF recent press surrounding putative FDA post-marketing surveillance lapses, the answer is yes. Greater confidence stems from randomized clinical trials sponsored by neutral agencies, such as NIH.


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