To me it comes as no surprise that researchers paid by pharmacy companies report positive results. In fact 80% of studies sponsored by pharmacy come out with findings favorable to the drug or device studied. It is highly unlikely that only 20% of the results are negative. There is a movement afoot to have pharmacy corporations pay into a general fund, which in turn would hire the researchers. This, it is hoped would reduce the all too human urge to help out the company that is paying for your research.
Academics, who are unaffiliated with any outside companies have been considered the gold standard. After all, these guys, it has been claimed, are not paid by big pharma. They are in search of the truth and nothing more.
Well, not surprisingly, it turns out that these researchers are indeed human and with that, do have biases. A well known cancer researcher identified 53 “landmark” publications.. These were papers published in top journals by well respected labs. He wanted his team to reproduce or double check the findings before trying to build on the studies for drug development.
Unfortunately, only 6 of the 53 studies could be replicated. It implies that perhaps findings done in cells under artificial conditions may not be able to be reproduced under real conditions. More shocking is the very real possibility that some of these university researchers might just have been cutting corners. Why? These guys are not paid by pharmacy companies. Universities are supposed to be centers of excellence, where research is done in order to get at the truth.
Well, these scientists have much to gain if their research is published. For one, their careers are furthered if they publish in well respected journals. For another, if pharmacy companies notice particular researcher with a few publications under his belt is publishing in a area of their interest, he or she just might get some well needed seed money for further studies.
Bottom line is that unfortunately even supposedly unbiased university researchers do have issues. All findings from studies need to be taken with a grain of salt. A good idea would be to have an independent organization to double check findings. This would hopefully be able to select results which could then be used to develop promising drugs or devices.