Public Interests Must Go First

Researchers must stay independent -
even when pharmacy sponsors
© NCI Visuals Online

The Ethical Issues Committee of the Pharmaceutist Faculty - part of the UK's Royal Colleges of Physicians - has also endorsed the move towards registering all clinical trials before studies are initiated and called for all results to be reported.

"Sometimes doctors working in clinical research find themselves facing difficult ethical dilemmas, especially if the company they work for decides not to publish negative research findings" says Committee Member Dr Ken Paterson from the Department of Clinical Pharmacology at Glasgow's Royal Infirmary in Scotland.

"These situations place a heavy burden on individuals and our practical advice aims to give them external backing when they need to take a stand." The paper provides practical day-to-day advice for doctors working in pharmaceutical research e.g. saying that publication of any results should be agreed between the sponsor and the researcher before the clinical trial starts.

"Sponsors have an ethical responsibility to publish or make available negative research findings which may affect prescribing practices, especially if the medication is already on the market" says co-author and Committee Chair Dr Roger Bickerstaffe. "The advent of the Internet means that pharmaceutical companies now have a vehicle for publicising their own results to a mass audience, so there is no excuse for withholding negative results.”; Source: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.