Albany Medical Center
 Search
Home / Caring / Educating / Find a Doctor / News / Give Now / Careers / About / Calendar / Directions / Contact
Topic: Conflict of Interest
March 7, 2014 | Posted By Bruce White, DO, JD

New York Times article by Katie Thomas published on December 16, 2013 led with this sentence: “The British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline will no longer pay doctors to promote its products and will stop tying compensation of sales representatives to the number of prescriptions doctors write, its chief executive said Monday, effectively ending two common industry practices that critics have long assailed as troublesome conflicts of interest.” Might one ask: Are these really conflict of interests problems?

conflict of interest (so sometimes, conflict of interests) is often defined as: “a set of circumstances that creates a risk that professional judgment or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest.”  In a short introduction to conflicts of interests, written for a business ethics class at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Lamar Pierce (Associate Professor of Strategy, Olin Business School, Washington University, St. Louis) said:

Incentives are pervasive in every aspect of society. People are rewarded for taking certain actions, and not rewarded for taking others. Workers are paid for their effort and productivity, salespeople are paid for their sales, and small business owners are rewarded with profits for successful ventures. So long as these incentives are well-understood by everyone, they work reasonably well. They motivate effort, performance, and social welfare. But sometimes, individuals have incentives that conflict with their professional responsibilities, often in ways that are not transparent to the public or in their own minds. These conflicts of interest produce serious economic and social problems.

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our website.

December 3, 2013 | Posted By Zubin Master, PhD

This is part 2 of a blog written last month. In Part 1, I explained how open access (OA) journals work and some of the shortcomings of peer review. This was done to provide a background on a recently published study by staff at the leading journal Science. In this part, I will cover the specific experiment reported by Science and explain some of the limits of its design followed by an interesting and novel model of the non-profit OA journal BioéthiqueOnline.

Part 2: Open Access Journals, Peer Review, and Conflicts of Interest

Do OA Journals Perform Rigorous Peer Review?

Recently, John Bohannon of the Science group conducted an investigation where he submitted scientifically flawed papers using fake names and provided the names of research or academic institutions that didn’t exist to 304 OA journals (Science 342: 60-65, 2013). The idea was to create a scientific paper with major errors, so that “[a]ny reviewer with more than a high-school knowledge of chemistry and the ability to understand a basic data plot should have spotted the paper’s shortcomings immediately.” Bohannon created a database of molecules, lichens and cancer cell lines and ran them through a computer program to generate unique papers, but with a standard structure: “molecule X from lichen species Y inhibits the growth of cancer cell Z.” He also created fake authors from fictitious African institutions with the hope that using developing world authors would lessen suspicion by journal editors. The main flawed graph showed a dose-dependent decrease in cell growth yet despite rising concentrations, the effects on cells were modest. In addition, the anti-proliferative molecule was dissolved in a large amount of ethanol and because the control group was not treated with the same solution buffer, the anti-proliferative effects seen could simply be due to the cytotoxic effects of ethanol. In a second experiment, Bohannon attempted to show an “interactive effect” by adding the molecule with radiation, but the control cells were not exposed to any radiation. As the experiments had a tragically flawed design, the idea was that any peer reviewer should pick them up and the article should be rejected.

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our website.

November 4, 2013 | Posted By Zubin Master, PhD

This blog will be written in two parts. It discusses some interesting results produced by the publisher Science in regards to the quality of peer review of open access (OA) journals. In this first part, I will provide a brief explanation of OA journals and how peer review works and cover some of the shortcomings of peer review. In the second part of this blog post, I will discuss the specific experiment reported by Science and explain some of the limits of its design and end off with an interesting and novel model of the OA journal BioéthiqueOnline.

Part 1: The Open Access Movement and Limits of Traditional Peer Review

There has been a rise in OA journals, which are scholarly journals that are available online and are free to access or can be heavily subsidized. There is variation in how OA journals function e.g., authors may self-archive and upload a copy of the paper to an institutional or central repository (e.g., PubMed Central), journals may provide free access after an embargo period typically 6-12 months, or all journal articles may be made available online but authors pay a fee to publish. This last model is one we will pay attention to for the purposes of this blog.

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our website.

July 6, 2012 | Posted By John Kaplan, PhD

In an opinion piece by Thomas Stossel, the Harvard physician and researcher argues that financial conflicts of interest between academic research investigators and industry are “unequivocally beneficial” and that the concern that these may cause bias is a “mania”.  Dr. Stossel seems to be on a crusade in this regard having written numerous similar opinion pieces published in industry supported blogs, Forbes, and the Wall Street Journal and has even started an organization (Association of Clinical Research and Educators) for the purpose of advancing his viewpoint. Dr. Stossel is the brother of well known libertarian and Fox News commentator John Stossel and seems to be expressing a similar libertarian view on biomedical research. Especially interesting considering the apparent strength of his beliefs is his recent publication in Nature Biotechnology in which he claims to prove that those who hold an opposing point of view are biased.

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers graduate online masters in bioethics programs. For more information on the AMBI master of bioethics online program, please visit the AMBI site.

SEARCH BIOETHICS TODAY
SUBSCRIBE TO BIOETHICS TODAY
ABOUT BIOETHICS TODAY
BIOETHICS TODAY is the blog of the Alden March Bioethics Institute, presenting topical and timely commentary on issues, trends, and breaking news in the broad arena of bioethics. BIOETHICS TODAY presents interviews, opinion pieces, and ongoing articles on health care policy, end-of-life decision making, emerging issues in genetics and genomics, procreative liberty and reproductive health, ethics in clinical trials, medicine and the media, distributive justice and health care delivery in developing nations, and the intersection of environmental conservation and bioethics.
TOPICS