Head to head brawl: should drug companies be trusted to conduct research trials on their own drugs?

It may seem to the casual observer that the U.K.’s Great Oxford Debate (held in September at Oxford University and covered last month in the British Medical Journal) resembled a fight between the fox and the farmer over which one of them should be in charge of the henhouse. In one corner, wearing the red silk shorts, you had physician, activist and Bad Science blogger Dr. Ben Goldacre, who argues that the financial interests of a drug company lead to distorted clinical evidence when they run research trials on their own drugs.  In this corner, in the shiny blue Spandex, you had consultant Vincent Lawton, a Big Pharma veteran (most notably as a 26-year executive with drug giant Merck Pharmaceuticals), arguing that adequate safeguards already exist to keep a drug company’s research bias nicely  in check.

With the British Medical Journal refereeing the rumble, let’s tune in for Round One, led off by Vincent Lawton:  Continue reading