The latest on AstraZeneca, who are having to pay 198 million US dollars to patients who have developed diabetes on the anti psychotic drug quetiapine is only one bit of a long story. The challenge being made is that the weight gain and tendency to diabetes for some patients was known by AstraZeneca but not acknowledged fully on the information they gave to doctors. This paper from the journal Bioethical Enquiry may make you weep. Doctors are well known to reps as who is likely – and unlikely- to prescribe most new drugs. Guess where they focus their attention? A doctor and ex manager of AZ has made public his views on how he was asked to approve what he thought were non evidenced claims.We might moan that it is pharmaceutical companies who are responsible for not being open about side effects and instead marketing medicine to doctors and patients. And that’s true. But it also is a failure of the other doctors and politicians who have allowed this situation to happen.
The non publication of clinical trials is ethically wrong and fundamentally dangerous – yet legal. This non publication means that a pharmaceutical company can complete a clinical trial, not like the results, disregard them, and carry on regardless. But of course, triallists include doctors who have an ethical obligation to their patients. Doctors must know what non publication is going on.
I am keen to do good research in primary care and over the last decade have been approached by at least two pharmaceutical companies doing what may have been useful research – but who expected me to sign a confidentiality document which would have meant that I was not allowed to talk about the research except with their approval. I said no, but this is legal, and it seems normal – many other doctors have reported the same thing. I don’t depend on research for income – but others do; not just for themselves personally but for their departments.
Why has no politician petitioned for legislation? Why aren’t doctors more upset about this? And why do some doctors STILL see drug reps?