Medical research is increasingly being funded by industry, according to a paper published by Dr John Ioannidis, published in the British Medical Journal on March 18th. The study points out that over time, the percentatge of medical research funded by industry sources has increased.
According to Ioannidis, who also holds an appointment as professor of medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, industry is currently funding almost all clinical trials most often cited by other scientists, and is now considered to have a large impact on medicine. In fact, “in half of these [studies] there is absolutely no other source of funding,” he said.
The most common type of funding was government or public funding (60 percent of articles) followed by industry (36 percent), the researchers found.
But they also found that 65 of the 77 most-cited randomised, controlled trials (considered the gold standard of research) received funding from industry with the proportion increasing over time.
Eighteen of the 32 most-cited trials published after 1999 were funded by industry, with no other sources of funding listed.
An interesting issue skipped over in all of this analysis of industry funded research is that the research is required for them to be commercially viable. If the government (and thus, the taxpayers) are funding research of which the primary purpose is to gain FDA clearance to market, you’ve basically got the public paying all of the expensive early stage research that enables drug and device companies to rake in the dough.
Having previously worked in a lab funded primarily by industry, this particular MedGadgeteer is a little biased. However, it was generally pretty obvious to us that any testing we were doing on a specific implant had already been worked out in house by the manufacturer; they were just coming to us to have what they already knew verified by a “neutral third party.”
Link to the news story at Health 24
Link to the abstract on PubMed