Do federal scientists fear for their jobs for speaking the truth? What about corporate-funded science? Increasingly, powerful institutions have tried to curb scientific independence and integrity regarding issues as wide-ranging as public health, the environment, the economy, and government energy policy.
The number of warning letters sent by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to corporations has dropped by 50% in the last decade. In 2002, the regulatory agency decided that all warning letters should go through the office of its chief counsel, a move "designed to strengthen the letters and make them legally consistent and credible." But the change may have just succeeded in slowing the process to a crawl.
The American Medical Students' Association (AMSA) graded 150 medical schools on their conflict-of-interest policies and the influence that drug companies have with faculty and students. Only seven of the schools surveyed received an "A"; 60 got a failing grade, for not having sufficient policies or for not participating in the survey. AMSA president Dr. Brian Hurley called strong conflict-of-interest policies "incredibly important to protect the educational experience." Dr.
The pharmaceutical company Pfizer "is preparing an advertising and public-relations campaign to counter concerns about its antismoking drug Chantix, once trumpeted as a potential billion-dollar-a-year blockbuster." So far, Pfizer has "run ads in five major newspapers in which its medical director explains Chantix's risk-benefit balance." The drug company will soon "start hosting rou