Peer review ethics out the window for drug company pal

Peer review ethics out the window for drug company pal

It’s like they’re not even trying anymore.

“They” are members of the mainstream medical establishment. And they seem to have given up on even tying to make an effort to hide their reckless cronyism.

As part of the standard peer review process, Dr. Steven M. Haffner was examining an article due for publication in the New England Journal of Medicine. And the article just happened to contain damaging information about heart attack risk linked to the type 2 diabetes drug Avandia.

According to the New York Times, Dr. Haffner contacted GlaxoSmithKline (the maker of Avandia) and gave them a heads up.

Ah, but that’s against the rules at NEJM. And worse, it’s a serious breach of ethics in the peer review process.

So why would Dr. Haffner do such a thing? The Times quotes the doctor who told the journal Nature, “Why I sent it is a mystery. I don’t really understand it. I wasn’t feeling well. It was bad judgment.”

Really? That’s the best he can do? He wasn’t feeling well?

I’m sure he was feeling particularly unwell when the Times revealed that over a period of eight years he’d received $75,000 in consulting fees from Glaxo, and had previously been involved in a major Avandia study.

To paraphrase the old Beatles tune: I get by with a little help from my peers.