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Doctors Win Over Drug Companies In New Book

I posted an article some four years about medical journals at the time claiming their independence from drug company-sponsored research. A portion of that piece briefly mentioned the plight of Nancy Olivieri, a University of Toronto physician who lost a research contract with a Canadian drug company after she published a 1998 article about a serious side effect of a blood disorder drug she was studying. However, she did so despite signing a confidentiality agreement, which put her career as a physician and researcher at great risk.

I read an interesting review of a new book in today's New York Times, The Drug Trial: Nancy Olivieri and the Science Scandal that Rocked the Hospital for Sick Children, that told the story of the L1 drug, that was eventually approved for use in 47 countries (but not the United States or Canada).

The story shed light on all sides of the story, including the heavy-handedness of drugmakers wanting to supress the bad news of a new product that Dr. Olivieri found to be ineffective and deadly, producing scarring of the liver and heart.

Another angle, however, was just as illuminating: Some who were interviewed for the book were skeptical of Dr. Olivieri's results, including the former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine who likely approved her study for publishing. In fact, a former collaborator and physician in chief at the Children's Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania warned readers to be wary of investigators, and that there were many more motives besides money at work here.

All the more reason, you should always remain cognizant about who and where and why you believe your most trusted medical sources. And, why I remain so focused on my life goal of replacing an established health care paradigm far too focused on quick-fix cures with one that treats the true causes of disease.

New York Times June 14, 2005 Registration Required

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