America’s health care research system has many problems. The overall result is poor return on the money spent. The lure of big $ is a factor in many of them. Two specific problems:
- What gets research $ (including from Federal $) is heavily driven by profit potential, not medical potential. Ideas that can’t be patented get little research.
- Academic career incentives distort both topics of research (what will corporate sponsors pay for?) and publication. The “replicability crisis” is not just in social sciences.
This NYT article illustrates one way that drug companies indirectly manipulate research agendas: huge payments to influential researchers. In this article, Board of Directors fees. Large speaking fees for nominal work are another common mechanism. Here are some others:
- Speaking fees to reward doctors for prescribing a company’s products.
- Authors of research articles lying about their financial ties to companies making the drug the article is about.
- This article is a bit of a diatribe, but it links to multiple relevant studies.
Drugmakers don’t just compromise doctors; they also undermine top medical journals and skew medical research. By Harriet A. Washington | June 3, 2011
I could go on and on about this problem, partly because I live in a biotech town and work at a biotech university. I have posted about this elsewhere in this blog. But since it’s not an area where I am doing research, I will restrain myself.