Bmj Usa: Editorial

Brains, claims, and the pharmaceutical industry

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 19 November 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:E107
  1. Mark J Alberts (, professor of neurology and director, stroke program,
  2. Charles L Bennett (, professor of medicine,
  3. Steven H Woolf (, editor
  1. Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago
  2. Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Chicago Veterans Administration Healthcare System and the Veterans Administration Midwest Center for Health Services Research and Policy Studies
  3. BMJ USA and professor of family practice and preventive and community medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, Fairfax, Virginia

    Conflict of interest in perspective

    This article originally appeared in BMJ USA

    In this issue the journalist Jeanne Lenzer draws attention to the uneasy alliance between industry, science, and policy (BMJ USA p 283). She explores the relationship between Genentech, the manufacturer of alteplase (tPA), and the decision of the American Heart Association (AHA) to give that drug a class I recommendation as thrombolytic therapy for stroke. She accuses the AHA and Genentech of overstating the trial evidence for tPA, creating the “stroke attack” ad campaign to promote the drug, denying the existence of a guideline panel member because he disagreed with its recommendation, barring access to trial data, and delaying release of information from another trial.

    Whether these assertions are true is not the focus of this editorial. Saver and colleagues (BMJ USA p 291) suggest that her characterization of the evidence may not be entirely accurate. Since the publication of the National Institutes of Neurologic Disease and Stroke trial, numerous other studies support the efficacy of this therapy.1 2 Moreover, the AHA recommendations are consistent with those from the National Stroke Association, American Academy of Neurology, Brain Attack Coalition, and Stroke Belt Consortium.3 …

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