Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Research Ethics

In clear sight

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 02 September 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3443
  1. Marisa de Andrade, freelance journalist

    Despite measures to improve transparency of research funding, Marisa de Andrade finds there is still scope for confusion

    On a Friday night in March 2009, I joined more than 30 doctors gathered at the Gleneagles Hotel for predinner drinks. We were attending a weekend meeting at the invitation of the University of Dundee’s Hypertension Research Centre and Medicines Monitoring Unit after “positive feedback” from a similar gathering in January. Both meetings aimed to provide practices with sufficient information about the Standard Care versus Celecoxib Outcome Trial (SCOT) to enable general practitioners to decide whether to participate.

    The invitation did not mention Pfizer, although the drug company was providing £26m (€30m; $43m) for the study.1 Instead, the trial was described as “an academic, investigator-initiated study, requested by the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) and sponsored by the University of Dundee.” The university is working in partnership with the universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Aberdeen and collaborating with researchers from Nottingham University and the University of Southern Denmark.2 3

    The SCOT application form submitted to the NHS research ethics committee indicates that Pfizer is the sole funder of the study.

    The trial is designed to compare the cardiovascular safety of the cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitor celecoxib with that of other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) in men and women who are over 60, who already take a non-selective NSAID regularly, and who do not have established cardiovascular or peripheral vascular disease or severe heart failure.3

    Recruitment started in February 2008 and is expected to last three years with a total of 16 000 patients.1 Dundee University plans to increase the number of participants by running the trial in England and another European country, possibly the Netherlands.

    After hearing about the meeting and approaching the university for comment, I received a call from …

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