In the last few years several big pharmaceutical companies have paid huge fines (literally billions of $) for failing to disclose the potential dangers of some of their drugs. This time it’s J&J and their antipsychotic Risperidol. Last November it was GlaxoSmithKline’s diabetes drug Avandia. I remember how in 2007, Congressman Darryl Issa tried to intimidate the cardiologist whistleblower who reported the heart damage some of his patients had experienced after taking the pill. Issa asked the doctor if he knew how much his “accusations” had cost the stock price!

In the novel “Dead Air”, an unethical pharmaceutical company continues a vaccine study using students at my fictional university knowing it was literally killing the subjects. Just like these real pharma companies, the fictional Nitshi Corporation put profits before people. Several reviewers have called the book “eerily timely”. Frankly, I wish it was just a good thriller. Here’s today piece in the New York Times

Sammy

“Dead Air” by Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid may be fiction, but it’s “dead on”

The authors of “Dead Air, Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid, wrote the thriller as a cautionary tale. As medical research has become more and more competitive, with funding often only availabe from corporate sources with profit motives, conflicts of interest are a real issue – one that literally costs human subjects and, ultimately, patients taking a drug that should not have been approved, their lives. ThisWall Street Journal article details the growing number of real life examples of poor medical research coming out of ostensibly prestigious institutions and published in widely-respected medical journals. This is becoming a serious problem that doesn’t normally get much press. Read the article, then read the book. “Dead Air” may be fiction, but as far as a premise, it’s really dead on!!

– Sammy

Dead Air by Deborah Shlian & Linda Reid, winner of Royal Palm Literary Award

Why medical research needs better oversight

Just as in the novel Dead Air, written by my creators, Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid, this op ed piece points out the dangers of inadequately monitored medical research.Carl Elliott, who teaches bioethics at the University of Minnesota, talks about “seeding trials” in which a pharmaceutical company tries to promote a new drug to physicians in the guise of a research study. In point of fact, these are really marketing strategies- not well designed clinical research protocols.Because the drugs have already been approved by the FDA, the “trials” are not considered illegal and are not reviewed by the agency. So when bad things happen to the subjects, as it has with several drugs cited by Elliott, that information may take years to reach the public- if ever- since there is no requirement that the pharmaceutical company report any problems.

Bottom line: Given the fact that the government won’t regulate as it should, my advice is this: be very, very careful before you volunteer for a study that is conducted by a private company. The characters in the fictional medical thriller, Dead Air didn’t and look what happened to them. It’s no joke.

Take care!

Sammy

Dead Air by Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid