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Research ethics have not “sunk to an all time low”

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 24 May 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:1079
  1. Geoff Watts
  1. London

    Clinical researchers working on new drugs were “cleared” last week of allowing their ethical standards to sink to an all time low, in a debate held at a conference on clinical research at the Royal College of Physicians in London.

    A small majority of the audience worked in the drug industry, and although the debate was not limited to research within the industry the convincing win must have cheered those in the drug business, who feel that they have recently been under attack.

    The contestants in the debate, entitled “This house believes that the ethics of clinical research have reached an all time low,” were Richard Smith, former editor of the BMJ and now executive director at UnitedHealth Europe, who argued for the motion, and Trevor Jones, former director general of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.

    Dr Smith's first example of unethical behaviour by researchers inside and outside the drug industry was drawn from studies of inappropriate authorship. He said that it was not uncommon …

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