Pride & Prejudice About Product Safety
Suppose that when a product malfunctions it was acceptable for the manufacturer to pay “experts”, recognized and notable professionals; to write articles, opinion letters, and studies, that spoke of the product’s safety. Articles that dispelled any notion that the product was really what was causing the problem.
Suppose that each of these “experts” was paid for their literary contributions, but did not disclose the payment.
Does not happen? Experienced, reputable “experts” would never agree to such a charade?
Unfortunately, it happens all the time.
I have been dealing with experts for many years and have often heard the trap of, “well, she teaches at ___________ School, she must know what she is talking about” or “he did clinical research at _______________ institution, he is certainly an expert”. These are constant traps people fall into. Where an expert teaches or was educated is a very small part of what does or does not make them an expert.
Experts are human. Experts can be influenced by money; by self interest, and by a really good “snow job” from a manufacturer.
This topic has once again raised its ugly head through discoveries made about the drug, Avandia. The Mayo Clinic did a retrospective study, in which they determined that many “experts” forgot to disclose financial ties they had with the manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline.
Avandia is suspected of causing fluid retention, congestive heart failure, and heart attacks in diabetic patients.
It seems a good time for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry to adopt strict guidelines relating to disclosures of possibly prejudicing financial or other interests, which “experts” may have in connection with products or drugs.
If the industry will not do it voluntarily, perhaps it is overdue for the Food & Drug Administration to compel them.