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Integrity in Science Watch Week of 02/24/2006


Headlines
Conflicted Scientists May Play Key Role at Upcoming FDA Advisory Panel

Yale Sets Tougher Rules for Big Pharma on Campus

Top Scientists Decry Washington's Muzzling of Science

UK Scientist Deprived Data; Questions Pharmaceutical, University Interface

Weinberg Group Helps Industry Side-Step Regulation

Canadian Medical Association Fires Top Editors

BLM Biologists Forced to Monitor Drilling, Not Wildlife

BLM Reinstates Funding to Contested OSM Logging Study

Conflicted Scientists May Play Key Role at Upcoming FDA Advisory Panel

Half the scientific experts chosen for the Food and Drug Administration's March 6th Anti-Infective Drugs Advisory Committee have financial ties to Cubist Pharmaceuticals, whose new antibiotic is up for approval, or its competitors. Steven Ebert sits on Cubistís speakers bureau, while Jeffrey Borer, John Bradley, and James Omel sit on speakerís bureaus, own stock or consult for a direct competitor of Cubist. A fifth waiver was granted to Jan Patterson, whose spouse sits on the speaker's bureau and consults for a firm that competes with Cubist. The FDA routinely grants financial conflict of interest waivers by claiming it cannot find experts without such ties. It also does not reveal the names of scientistsí corporate clients.

Yale Sets Tougher Rules for Big Pharma on Campus

Yale University has issued new guidelines for faculty and medical students that will place strict limits on future dealings with the pharmaceutical industry. The limits include a ban on free meals, drug samples and other gifts from the industry. The university also pledged stricter management of faculty conflicts of interest. ďOne medical school has attempted to meet the challenge of maintaining professionalism, integrity and public service" in working with pharmaceutical companies, a university statement said.

Top Scientists Decry Washington's Muzzling of Science

At a session organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, hundreds of top scientists heard David Baltimore, Noble-prize winning scientist and President of the California Institute of Technology, attack the Bush administration for its "suppression of scientific freedom" by an increasingly powerful executive branch. Susan Wood, the former FDA director of women's health who resigned in protest over the FDA's handling of Plan B (emergency contraception), blamed Congress for establishing an environment that neglects science in policy-making.

UK Scientist Deprived Data; Questions Pharmaceutical, University Interface

How much control do corporate benefactors exert over their university-based research? Sheffield University professor Aubrey Blumsohnís run-in with Proctor & Gamble suggests far too much. Blumsohn was denied access to data compiled for a 2002 study of Actonel, P&Gís osteoporosis drug, in which he took part. The company also published abstracts and drafts under Blumshonís name without his consent. "I asked repeatedly for the data, they refused," Blumsohn said in a stopover in Washington this week. He and others question whether companies that contribute financially to research should "be allowed to help write the results for publication or insert their own interpretation of those results."

Weinberg Group Helps Industry Side-Step Regulation

Environmental Science and Technology revealed this week that the Weinberg Group sought to represent DuPont in its battle against stricter standards on PFOA, a chemical used to manufacture Teflon. The companyís pitch, contained in an EPA filing, said the Weinberg group is expert at "successfully [guiding] clients through...challenges posed by those whose agenda is to grossly over regulate, extract settlements from, or otherwise damage the chemical manufacturing industry."

Canadian Medical Association Fires Top Editors

The Canadian Medical Association has dismissed editors John Hoey and Anne Marie Todkill from its journal after a December article described the experiences of Canadian women who were asked personal questions, including sexual history, by pharmacists before being allowed to purchase the morning-after pill. The Canadian Pharmacist Association had complained. Jerome Kassirer, a member of the Canadian Medical Association Journal editorial board, called the action "reprehensible."

BLM Biologists Forced to Monitor Drilling, Not Wildlife

The Washington Post reports that Bureau of Land Management biologists now spend most of their time processing oil drilling permits and not protecting wildlife. "I spent less than one percent of my time in the field,Ē said Steve Belina, a former BLM biologist. A BLM study three years ago found one-third the bureauís wildlife management money was spent on other things. "No matter how large the benefits are from this development, it does not justify turning a blind eye to the environment," said Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D), whose state has had areas experience since a six-fold increase in drilling in recent years.

BLM Reinstates Funding to Contested OSM Logging Study

Update: Under pressure from federal officials and the scientific community, the Bureau of Land Management restored money for a graduate student's study showing the negative effects of logging burned forest. Rep. Jay Inslee, (D-WA), among others, questioned whether the Bureau had "stopped the funding because the study findings ran against the Bush administration's position on logging."


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