Tuesday, January 09, 2007

One Quote Says It All

Dr. Graham Emslie, who has participated in a number of psychiatric drug trials for children, appeared in a brief interview clip on an Austin TV station’s investigation into SSRI use among children. Emslie was contracted by GlaxoSmithKline as an investigator in a study examining the effects of paroxetine (Paxil) on child/adolescent depression. As such, he was aware that data showed that Paxil was no more effective than a placebo, but (and here’s the killer quote):

I couldn’t talk about it because it was proprietary.

In other words, Emslie had an agreement with GSK that he would not share their trial data without GSK's permission, even when it showed that Paxil was no more effective than a placebo and related to poorer safety outcomes than placebo. This is what I have been beating the drum about repeatedly…

Of note, on his webpage, it is stated that Emslie "is known internationally for his work in the treatment of pediatric depression." Perhaps he should also be known as an academic who is willing to suppress results unfavorable to his corporate sponsors. Of course, Emslie should not be singled out; at least he had the courage to be interviewed. There are many other who have agreed to keep unfavorable data hidden.

Academics have increasingly become puppets of the drug industry. If you can’t share the negative results of your study, you are acting as a puppet. A well-paid puppet, but a puppet nonetheless. Science supposedly involves the disclosure of all of your data. Especially in the case of medicine, when scientific data are buried, people suffer and die needlessly. If anyone wants a good example of why industry and academia need to get out of their shared bed, this is it.

Thanks to AHRP for the link to the video and thanks to K-EYE TV in Austin, TX for running the story. Direct link to the video here.

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