Monday, January 16, 2006

More Fall-Out from the Blumsohn - Procter & Gamble - Sheffield University Case

We previously posted about the complicated case of alleged manipulation of clinical research by a commercial sponsor, and suppression of academic freedom by a university, involving Dr Aubrey Blumsohn, Sheffield University, and Procter & Gamble (P&G).
To summarize, Blumsohn and Professor Richard Eastell had done clinical research on the risedronate (Actonel), sponsored by P&G, the drug's manufacturer. P&G refused Blumsohn access to the original data from the study he was ostensibly running, and hired a ghost-writer to write abstracts in his name. Blumsohn protested to Eastell, who advised him not to make waves because P&G "is a good source of income" for the university. When protests to other university officials produced no results, Blumsohn told the story to the press, whereupon the university suspended him.
A brief article in the Guardian just revealed that Eastell "has left his job as director of research at the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Trust following claims of financial irregularities. Eastell had been suspended from his NHS (National Health Service) work while the hospital investigated allegations that he was charging the NHS for work that should have been done privately." But, "a hospital spokesman said because Eastell had resigned before the inquiry finished, it could not reach a verdict."
My experience has been that once one instance of behavior that violates physicians' core values comes to light at an institution, others often follow, demonstrating the penumbra of bad outcomes that ill-informed, conflicted, or corrupt leadership of health care organizations often produces. More shoes may drop in this case.
[Note: for the PharmaGossip take on this incident, see this link.]


Anonymous said...

After the undemocratic way in which this particular University (Sheffield) threw away the School of Nursing anything is possible. It takes years for a Universirty to build up trust with its staff, and this University seems to be doing a good job of destroying all trust when professors seem to get away with things and those of us on the lower rungs are treated as if we don't matter. Glad I left.

Anonymous said...

This story explains a lot. All of the P & G publications always seemed to come out just right to support their marketing messages even though many went against the strength of the accumulated data to that point in time. It is also amazing that P & G has kept this from reaching the American press. Not a word of it here. The scientific record needs to be corrected and other outside author/P&G studies should be investigated so that the field can proceed correctly.