Friday, March 20, 2009

Does Pharma Want its Researchers to Believe They Are Next to God?

In "Drug Maker Told Studies Would Aid It, Papers Say" (New York Times, Mar. 19, 2009), the Times discusses the case of psychiatrist Dr. Joseph Biederman. Dr. Biederman outlined plans to test Johnson & Johnson’s drugs including risperidone/Risperidal in presentations to company executives and seemed to guarantee positive outcomes for his studies of the drug, raising questions about his research.

Biederman has become a key witness in a series of lawsuits filed by state attorneys general claiming that makers of antipsychotic drugs defrauded state Medicaid programs by improperly marketing their medicines. His work helped fuel a rapid rise in the use of these medicines in children. Biederman earned at least $1.6 million in consulting fees from drug makers from 2000 to 2007 but failed to report all but about $200,000 of this income to university officials.

However, if a passage about Dr. Biederman's testimony in court is correct, I believe pharma should consider whether it wants to use someone who believes they are next to God in any capacity whatsoever.

There are certain damning statements that, once made by a person, cast a deep shadow over a person's character. I believe this one, if true, may rise to that level:

In a contentious Feb. 26 deposition between Dr. Biederman and lawyers for the states, he was asked what rank he held at Harvard. “Full professor,” he answered.

“What’s after that?” asked a lawyer, Fletch Trammell.

God,” Dr. Biederman responded.

“Did you say God?” Mr. Trammell asked.

Yeah,” Dr. Biederman said.

One does not usually joke in deposition.

I've been Yale faculty, and would never, ever have made anything even approaching such a comment, least of all in a deposition about drug issues affecting kids.

Let alone the the palm-greasing he was afforded, could Dr. Biederman's apparently hyperinflated ego have clouded his judgment and scientific objectivity?

In drug R&D, that is inherently an extremely dangerous proposition.

Where children are concerned, catastrophic might be a more apt term.

-- SS

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

As Stalin said... "When you kill one, it is a tragedy. When you kill ten million. It is a statistic".

There appears to be a growing calumnious in the medical field where profit is the only motivation and those caught in fall out from bad medical decisions are simply statistics.

Each and every one of those numbers is a person, with a story. Sometimes nothing would change the outcome, but when a conscious decision is made to change data, or skew a study for financial gain, the crime is against the public, not just those impacted by the medication or procedure.

This type of arrogance should be met with an equally stiff penalty, including jail time, if fraud is found. A fine has become the cost of doing business in the drug world, stiffer penalties need to be enforced.

Steve Lucas

MedInformaticsMD said...

Steve, my young nieces have been severely impacted by the massive overuse of these drugs in kids.

That this may have resulted from medical megalomania and greased palms feeding same is beyond outrageous.

-- SS

Anonymous said...

Scot,

I am sorry. My wife and I have never had children, but from time to time have been involved in community activities involving children. There has always been one rule: You never hurt a kid. Never.

Steve Lucas

Anonymous said...

Oh good lord, don't you have a sense of humor?

As Foghorn Leghorn would say, it's a joke, son, I say, it's a joke.

Lighten up.

MedInformaticsMD said...

Anonymous said:

Oh good lord, don't you have a sense of humor?

Yes, I'm just not a God who believes cavalier attitudes towards drugs, especially those pushed for children, is very funny.

As Foghorn Leghorn would say, it's a joke, son, I say, it's a joke.

As Victor P. Satinsky would say, with your level of foolishness, your patient's dead.

I imagine "anonymous" believes dead patients are a laughing matter and that Dr. Satinsky was just too serious.