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Speaker details shortcomings of clinical drug trial system

Featured Events | Sep 17, 2015 |

Laws governing the disclosure of new drug clinical trials are neither extensive nor well enforced, a medical ethicist told a group of Fordham University students during a lecture last week.

Jennifer Miller, an assistant professor in the Medical Ethics Division of the Department of Population Health at the NYU Langone Medical Center, also said it would be lucky to find a drug marketed in the United States that was actually tested here.

“We test drugs for first-world problems, like allergy medicine and male pattern baldness, on people who need more basic things, like clean water or a tuberculosis vaccine,” Miller said to the audience gathered in the Lowenstein Building on Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus.

The professor was brought to Fordham by the Global Healthcare Innovation Management Center, run by Falguni Sen, and the event was sponsored by EmblemHealth. Fordham’s Gabelli School of Business recently launched a new healthcare management concentration at the undergraduate level.

Miller said she is working on an index of the 20 largest pharmaceutical companies, ranked by ethical, human rights and population health concerns.

She calls her project the “Pharmaceutical Integrity Scorecard.” In this scorecard, she evaluates companies’ clinical trials based on design, conduct, results and data, marketing, and access. Thus far, Miller has only indexed companies based on results and data. Even with such a small portion of the project completed, her research has yielded important results.

Legally, she said, companies are only required to disclose about half of their research findings. Usually, companies choose to disclose the “best” or most potentially lucrative results. This leads to research often being repeated.

That information astonished Emily Lindo, a Fordham student who attended the lecture.

“I didn’t realize how much pharmaceutical companies don’t disclose,” Lindo said. “When you see their long commercials, you figure they are telling you everything.”

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