BMJ Editorial Urges Readers to Stand Up for Science in the Era of Trump | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Any president of the United States is entitled to implement policies that reflect personal ideology and political beliefs. The public may disagree on the merits and drawbacks of these policies, but as long as the supporting arguments are based on facts and comply with constitutional principles then so be it. In its first weeks, however, Donald Trump’s presidency has raised worrying questions about its likely impact on science and health policy. Many of the new administration's pronouncements seem to place little value on facts or analysis. They also seem lacking in careful consideration of the consequences for biomedical research, healthcare, and ultimately the health of people in the US and the rest of the world.

Concerns
We are particularly concerned that Trump’s administration is acting in ways that will suppress research and limit communication on scientific topics that it deems politically inconvenient. All scientific communications from the Environmental Protection Agency may need to be approved by political appointees before being presented or published.

 

Scientists from the Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Health and Human Services (which includes the National Institutes of Health) are restricted in their communications with the public.

 

Scientific information on government websites is being removed and becoming inaccessible. Some agencies are responding through self censorship, cancelling key scientific meetings out of fear of retribution from political appointees.

 

Members of the president’s cabinet, including those responsible for energy and the environment, deny the evidence on climate change without attempting to counter the overwhelming scientific consensus with better or even different information.

 

Proposals to reform the Food and Drug Administration will scale back the agency’s ability to ensure the safety and efficacy of approved drugs, harming not only people in America but those in other countries that often follow the FDA’s lead.

How should science and medicine respond to these challenges? The BMJ’s solution is to reaffirm our commitment to fostering and applying the best evidence for policy and practice, to be an open forum for rigorous debate that challenges the status quo and holds us all to account, to speak truth to power and support others who do the same, and to actively campaign for a better world, based on our values of transparency, independence, and scientific and journalistic integrity.

The Trump administration’s early policies risk head-on collision with the scientific and health communities. The BMJ’s ongoing campaigns for open science and open data, the health effects of climate change, and corruption and conflict of interest in healthcare are some examples of where conflict may occur. At this early stage it seems unlikely that the administration will change its course and promote open discourse, based on respect for scientific evidence and data. But whichever way Trump turns, the scientific and healthcare communities must commit to serving the best interests of patients and the public.