Last May, a controversial paper in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) reported that a popular diabetes drug – rosiglitazone, sold as Avandia – substantially hikes a user’s risk of heart attack (SN:6/23/07, p.397). But according to an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, Avandia’s maker knew about the study before it was published. The company – Philadelphia-based GlaxoSmithKline – had a leaked copy, courtesy of a scientist that NEJM had recruited for a peer review of the paper.
”The man who did this is Dr. Steven Haffner,” ranking Finance committee member Sen Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) reported last week, referring to the investigation. Grassley added that Haffner, a physician with the University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHSC) in San Antonio, “confirmed to my investigators that he faxed a draft of the study to GlaxoSmithKline weeks before it was published.”
According to a statement issued by William L. Heinrich, dean of medicine at UTHSC-San Antonio, the charges have “just come to light on our campus. We are embarking on a complete investigation.” He added that if Grassley’s charges are confirmed the university expects to take “swift and appropriate action”.
Most troubling, Grassley argues, is the reviewer’s role. By leaking unpublished data, Haffner “violated practically every tenet of independence and integrity held sacred by the major medical journals,” he says.
Calls to Haffner were forwarded to the UTSHC-San Antonio Office of External Affairs.
When Haffner received the UTSHC-San Antonio Presidential Distinguished Scholar Award last year, the university noted that, in terms of federal support, he is among its “highest-funded investigators”. He also received some $75,000 for consulting and speaking fees from GlaxoSmithKline, according to government filings that Glassley’s team uncovered.
author: Janet Raloff
- n. an examination and evaluation of the performance of a professional or technician by a board or committee made up of people in the same occupation.http://dictionary.law.com/default2.asp?selected=1489&bold=%7C%7C%7C%7C
- Collections of papers from conferences may be considered peer reviewed as well, if the original presentations were "invited" or examined by experts before being accepted. Papers which appear in sources like these are considered to be as reliable as humanly possible. http://valinor.ca/peer-review.html
- a. How do all major scientific publications attempt to insure the validity of the information published in their journals?
- b. Why would it be considered a violation to be paid to participate in the peer review process?
- c. In what ways did Dr. Haffnder violate the peer review tenets?
- What do you think might happen if journal reviewers leak unpublished data to companies? To the news media? This is the most important concept in assignment.
- What should be the consequences to Dr. Haffner if it is confi
After reading the news article above, consider the following questions when writing your critical analysis of the situation.