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  • BIOETHICS FORUM ESSAY

How Not to Deal with Pharma

Ethicists looking for textbook examples of how universities ought not to behave in the face of pharmaceutical industry muscle-flexing might be interested in the case of Dr. Aubrey Blumsohn, who was until recently a senior lecturer in the Bone Metabolism Unit at Sheffield University. Among Sheffield’s pharmaceutical funders was Proctor and Gamble. Blumsohn performed clinical research that contributed to the FDA approval of P&G’s osteoporosis drug, Actonel (risedronate). But when Blumsohn asked P&G for the raw data upon which the Actonel research was based, the company refused – even though it was generating ghostwritten abstracts and manuscripts in Blumsohn’s name. When Blumsohn was finally allowed to see the data, he says he found evidence of fraud. After lodging formal complaints over a period of 18 months with Sheffield administrators and getting no result, he turned to the press. For this, Sheffield fired him.

The Blumsohn story has been covered by Slate.com, The Associated Press, National Public Radio, and a number of media outlets in the UK, including The Observer and The Times Higher Educational Supplement. It has also been discussed in the British House of Commons. Blumsohn is giving lectures on his case at a number of medical centers in North America. He’s in Rockport, Maine, on June 9, at Harvard on June 12, University of Manitoba on June 16, University of Toronto on June 19, and back in Maine, in Portland, on June 21. Details, with contact info, are posted at Health Care Renewal.

Published on: June 7, 2006
Published in: Conflicts of Interest in Research, Pharmaceutics

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