According to the Star, the doctors, some of them esteemed researchers from Canada’s top hospitals and academic institutions, have also routinely broken rules designed to protect participants and botched research of new treatments.
Using U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) records obtained through U.S. freedom of information legislation, the Star found serious problems in the system designed to ensure new drugs are safe and effective.
The U.S. FDA inspection reports on Canadian drug trials show shoddy work performed by Canadian doctors, some of whom have accepted money from the same drug companies sponsoring the trials!
Health Canada inspects a small number of the 4,000 drug trials running at any one time across the country. In a recent post, we discussed the problems related to the fact that Health Canada inspection results are kept secret. This new information related to problems with some of the Canadian drug trials was uncovered by the Star through records from the U.S. FDA.
The FDA monitors experiments run by Canadian doctors and involving Canadian test subjects, to see if a Canadian drug is safe for the U.S. market. Many of the drugs in question have also been approved in Canada by Health Canada.
The fact that Canadian doctors doing shoddy work have accepted money from the same drug companies sponsoring the trials raises a whole host of issues related to whether Ontarians are getting the straight goods from their doctors on the drugs the physicians are prescribing for them.
It’s well-known that drug companies offer doctors funding, trips and personal gifts as inducement to prescribe their products.
To their credit, an updated ethical policy from the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons (the organization that regulates physicians in Ontario) calls on doctors to stop accepting gifts from pharmaceutical companies or putting their names to studies really written by commercial interests such as drug companies.
The College’s updated ethical policy urges Ontario doctors to be more critical of the information provided to them by drug companies and not rely on that information alone in their decision-making on the treatment of a patient.
So in Ontario, the College of Physicians is at least taking some baby steps towards dealing with the serious issue of secrecy and conflict of interest between doctors and the big drug companies.
But the Harper federal government seems unwilling to act. As the attached Star editorial concludes:
“The current negligent, secretive attitude (of Health Canada) endangers the health of Canadians and must end. Anything less breaks the doctors’ Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm.”
Click the link below and next time your doctor prescribes a new drug for you, give it some thought.