Doctors involved in medical research should attach primary importance to the interests of the patients rather than commercial interest, even if it puts them at a disadvantage with their employer, according to the advice from the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine, published in the February issue of IJCP
The Ethical Issues Committee, which is part of the UK's Royal Colleges of Physicians, has seconded this move of documenting all clinical trials, before actual studies begin mandating that all results be reported. According to Committee Member, Dr Ken Paterson, from the Department of Clinical Pharmacology at Glasgow's Royal Infirmary,
"Sometimes doctors working in clinical research find themselves facing difficult ethical dilemmas, especially if the company they work for decides not to publish negative research findings".
The Faculty's paper is a ready reckoner for regular advice, to doctors working in pharmaceutical research, and is tailored around the organization's currently drafted ethical principles, with a pre-condition of a perfect agreement between the sponsor and the researcher prior to the commencement of the clinical trial and publication of the research.
According to co-author and Committee Chair Dr Roger Bickerstaffe, Global Vice President for Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Luxembourg "Sponsors have an ethical responsibility to publish or make available negative research findings which may affect prescribing practices, especially if the medication is already on the market and the advent of the Internet means that pharmaceutical companies now have a vehicle for publicizing their own results to a mass audience, so there is no excuse for withholding negative results.'
He further added that the guidance, lucidly outlines doctor's responsibility to patients and the society at large, transcending any obligation to an employer.