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The scientist as high class hooker and gigolo

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Effect Measure. 19 March 2009.

The scientist as high class hooker and gigolo.

The Conflict of Interest talk these days is all about doctors and medical school lecturers who are in bed with Big Pharma, but the bed is pretty crowded. Researchers are there, too. Not that this hasn't been a topic of conversation. And not that researchers aren't conscious of it and frantically trying to distance themselves from it. But it's nice and warm under the covers and its a friendship with benefits, as the younger generation likes to put it:

' As accusations of undisclosed financial conflicts among university researchers swirl, drug makers and academics are entering a new stage of closer collaboration. Instead of striking traditional licensing deals with academic labs that produce commercializable results, companies are starting to reach farther back, all the way to the inception of basic research projects.

The motivation from both sides is obvious: Pharma has a pipeline problem, and universities are clamoring for research dollars as public funding feels the pinch of the deflating economy. But closer relationships and earlier-stage collaborations between academia and pharma companies do not come without potential conflict of interest issues of their own. (Bob Grant, The Scientist)'.

The issue from Pharma's side is clear: they have a "pipeline" problem, which is to say they have few new (obscenely profitable) drugs in the pipeline. That's because they really don't do much original research on their own, regardless of the line they feed the public and their bought-and-paid-for politicians that basic "research" looking for cures for cancer is very expensive. They don't do that kind of research. They let academia do it, bought and paid for (there's that phrase again) by the US taxpayer via NIH. But they still want exclusive access to it and they also want to control its direction.


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