Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Huffington Post: The Real Health Care Scare

In all of the white-hot vitriol being spewed over a national health care plan, very little attention is being directed at the pharmaceutical companies and the potential conflicts of interest involving the doctors doing their research. In America, we are generally of the belief that by the time a drug or vaccine has made it into the marketplace there has been enough testing conducted by the FDA and objective physicians and researchers that we can trust its safety. Frequently, we are wrong.
The internecine relationships between drug companies and researchers and their institutions deserve constant scrutiny. As an example, the highest-profile proponent of vaccines like the MMR for children, Dr. Paul Offit has been made a wealthy man by Merck, the pharmaceutical giant that manufactures MMR. Offit did not conduct the research on the MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) vaccine but sold a patent to Merck for a vaccine against rotavirus, which causes diarrhea in children.
Offit is not known to be in the midst of a Merck revenue stream, his opinion can hardly be considered unbiased when speaking about the company's MMR product. None of this is ever disclosed when the media frequently run to interview Offit as a vaccine expert on MMR. In fact, during a recent broadcast on NBC Dateline, "A Dose of Controversy," it was the first time Offit was asked in an interview about the millions he had earned on his rotavirus vaccine royalty. However, no mention was made of Merck by either NBC's Matt Lauer or Offit.

And, click here to read a piece from Reuters on the doctor's failure to disclose this relationship.

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