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Diet Drugs Reveal Pharma’s Influence in Medical Studies

Last year, the drug maker Novo Nordisk announced the release of a new product, a daily injection called Saxenda. The drug contains a high dose of the active ingredient in the company’s diabetes drug Victoza. The release of the new drug and its promotion provides an example of how the pharmaceutical industry influences the portrayal of its products in academic journals. This in turn has led to concerns about bias in relevant medical literature and the possibility of physicians committing medical malpractice by recommending defective drugs..

Pharmaceutical Bias in Academic Journals

The same week that the drug Saxenda was released, a well-known research journal published an article promoting weight-loss drugs, specifically Liraglutide, which is the scientific name for Saxenda. At the conclusion of the article, the author revealed that Novo Nordisk had hired a consultant to provide him with “writing assistance” on the piece. In addition, the company’s leadership was able to review the article before it was published.

While company involvement in authoring academic articles is common, it really shouldn’t be. Ethics experts continue to warn that pharmaceutical companies involved in academic writing may cause a improper influence and lead to unreliable and biased literature. Disclosure goes a long way towards making drug manufacturers accountable, but when disclosure notices only appear in small print at the end of the article, it raises questions as to whether busy professionals are even aware of their existence.

The specific article in question, written by physician and researcher Frank L. Greenway, was a broad review of the physiology behind weight loss and mentions Saxenda by its scientific name, Liraglutide. However, it does not include the drug’s specific side effects, which include nausea, diarrhea, and pancreatitis. The bulk of the piece argues that obesity is a medical condition and that the use of medicine and surgery are the best options for fighting it.

Pharmaceutical Influence in Medical Studies and Personal Injury

Academic journals are an important resource for keeping physicians up-to-date on new developments in the medical field. There is an inherent expectation that journal authors are providing qualified and unbiased information. The practice of pharmaceutical companies paying consultants to co-write articles on relevant topics that include mention of their own products casts serious doubts on whether such unbiased opinions are even possible.

The danger of these types of articles lies in the fact that many physicians will rely on the information provided, which, if it is inaccurate due to bias, can lead doctors to prescribe dangerous drugs or recommend unsafe procedures. Patients injured in such a manner will have recourse to the recovery of damages through a medical malpractice suit, but can still undergo tremendous suffering in the meantime, some of which is non-compensable.

Call an Attorney Today

If you have been the victim of an injury due to medical error based on a biased academic article, we may be able to help you recover damages. Please contact an experienced Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney at Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., for a free consultation.

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