Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
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Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
Pharmaguy curates and provides insights into selected drug industry news and issues.
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The Original Scientific Preprint Revolutionaries Were Quashed by the Medical Journal Industry

The Original Scientific Preprint Revolutionaries Were Quashed by the Medical Journal Industry | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

The movement to make biology papers freely available before they have been peer-reviewed, let alone published in a reputable journal, finally succeeded in 2013, when bioRxiv (pronounced bio-archive) was launched by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. But 50 years before, the National Institutes of Health tried something similar: distributing unpublished scientific papers, or preprints, to a handpicked group of leading researchers.

 

The effort was intended to speed the dissemination of potentially important advances, but it was met with such hostility from some eminent biologists and journals — one called the papers “shoddy merchandise” — that it was shut down after just six years, a historian reported recently in PLOS Biology:

 

ABSTRACT

In 1961, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) began to circulate biological preprints in a forgotten experiment called the Information Exchange Groups (IEGs). This system eventually attracted over 3,600 participants and saw the production of over 2,500 different documents, but by 1967, it was effectively shut down following the refusal of journals to accept articles that had been circulated as preprints.

 

“It’s fascinating to see that the same things happened 50 years ago,” said bioRxiv co-founder Richard Sever, who had never heard of the earlier preprint effort (which, of course, used snail mail). “The business concerns of the journals, the scientists who warned about the terrible things that would happen if information that wasn’t peer-reviewed got out — that was very much what we experienced with bioRxiv.”

 

The long-forgotten NIH effort began in 1961, when an official named Errett Albritton, then 70, dreamed up “Information Exchange Groups.” They initially consisted of “leading investigators” in a narrowly defined field, such as “computer simulation of biological systems,” found Matthew Cobb, a scientist and historian at the University of Manchester, who stumbled on dusty documents about it in the archives of Cold Spring Harbor Lab.

 

Researchers sent in drafts of their soon-to-be-published (they hoped) papers, and the NIH made copies and mailed them to members of the relevant specialty group. The idea, as one supporter wrote, was to allow scientists “to be fully informed in record time of all important developments in the field.”

 

Not everyone saw it that way. Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA, told Albritton in a 1961 letter that “there is far too much careless and rapid communication already in every area of this field of study,” referring to genetics. “The idea of increasing it even in this semi-public manner fills me with horror.”

 

Further Reading:

  • “Medical Journals Serve as Big Pharma Drug-Marketing Platform: Study by COI ‘Enabler’”; http://sco.lt/538ZHt
  • “The Privatization of Peer Review: #BigPharma Would Benefit”; http://sco.lt/5LItc1
Pharma Guy's insight:

Does bypassing medical journal peer review fill you with "horror?" I think some pharma marketers may like the idea. But not the FDA, I hope!

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Medical Journals Serve as Big Pharma Drug-Marketing Platform: Study by COI "Enabler"

Medical Journals Serve as Big Pharma Drug-Marketing Platform: Study by COI "Enabler" | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

The value of medical journals in providing physicians, researchers and other medical professionals an honest glimpse of the latest relevant, peer-reviewed medical science has greatly diminished in recent years. An extensive review published in the journal PLOS Medicine shows that medical journals today serve as little more than marketing platforms for pharmaceutical companies to push their drugs with little in the way of unbiased science.


Richard Smith, who served as an editor of the prestigious British Medical Journal (BMJ) for 25 years before resigning in 2004, warns that a bulk of the studies published in medical journals are pioneered by drug companies. More often than not, these studies push the agenda of the companies that launched them, procuring positive results that were cunningly derived through industry sleight of hand.


We’re not talking about pharmaceutical advertising here, which is also highly endemic in terms of conflicts of interest. We’re talking about studies — mainly randomized clinical trials — launched by drug companies that arrive at predetermined outcomes and are widely perpetuated in the medical literature to create the illusion that drugs and vaccines are safe and effective.


“Journals have devolved into information laundering operations for the pharmaceutical industry,” wrote Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet journal, back in March 2004, just one year before Smith published the review in question.


It’s not so much drug advertising as it is sponsored trials that corrupt medical journals


Although pharmaceutical advertising renders the quality of what’s been published in a given medical journal questionable, at least readers of that journal can see these advertisements and determine how seriously to take the contained studies. However, when the studies themselves are industry-sponsored and this is not disclosed, things get messy.

Pharma Guy's insight:


Richard Smith is what Tom Stossel calls a conflict-of-interest "enabler" -- or is it "instigator"? Whatever! You might enjoy reading my review of Stossel's new book, PHARMAPHOBIA. Available here (for a limited time): http://bit.ly/pmn140402pphobia 

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Keytruda v. Opdivo Advertising Channels: Which Reigns Supreme? Direct to Physicians or Direct to Patients?

Keytruda v. Opdivo Advertising Channels: Which Reigns Supreme? Direct to Physicians or Direct to Patients? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Merck's Keytruda and Bristol-Myers Squibb's Opdivo, for all their similarities, have taken markedly different commercial strategies to selling their immuno-oncology drugs.

 

Merck has spent more than double what Bristol-Myers Squibb has spent on Opdivo to promote Keytruda in professional journals targeting doctors. BMS has chosen a different route, electing to make huge splashes in direct-to-consumer advertising.

 

In the first half of 2016, Keytruda was the thirteenth most advertised brand in professional journals, with Merck doling out more than $2 million to target doctors, according to Kantar Media. During the same time period, Opdivo didn't even break into the top 20 of advertised pharmaceutical brands — Bristol-Myers Squibb spent $863,000 on professional ads for the drug, significantly less than what Merck spent.

 

But that's not to say BMS hasn't promoted Opdivo. The company spent $37 million on DTC ads in the first quarter of 2016 and a total of $125 million advertising the therapy in 2015, while Merck spent only $7.3 million in DTC spending over the same time period. In fact, Bristol-Myers Squibb promoted the drug directly to consumers to such an extent that it came under fire from investors last year.

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The Privatization of Peer Review: #BigPharma Would Benefit

The Privatization of Peer Review: #BigPharma Would Benefit | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

With a tweet yesterday, an editor of Scientific Reports, one of Nature Publishing Group’s (NPG’s) open-access journals, has resigned in a very public protest of NPG’s recent decision to allow authors to pay money to expedite peer review of their submitted papers. “My objections are that it sets up a two-tiered system and instead of the best science being published in a timely fashion it will further shift the balance to well-funded labs and groups,” Mark Maslin, a biogeographer at University College London, tells ScienceInsider. “Academic Publishing is going through a revolution and we should expect some bumps along the way. This was just one that I felt I could not accept.”


The flap shines a light on a fledgling industry where several companies are now making millions of dollars by privatizing peer review. This niche is being exploited because journal peer review is usually a slow process. After all, it is typically an anonymous, volunteer effort for which scientists receive nothing more than thanks from journal editors and the good feeling of contributing to the scientific community. But for a price at some journals, authors now have the option of fast-tracking their submitted papers through an accelerated peer-review process.

Pharma Guy's insight:


Imagine if the major medical journals adopted this policy!

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