Destructive tendencies: the presumption of guilt, conflict of interest version

If you can’t fault the findings, then fault the person who dares to present them. Asserting corruption via a conflict of interest is one means to do this. This bit of dishonesty is getting some attention at the American Enterprise Institute.

AEI visiting scholar Thomas Stossel, MD has a new book — available April 27 — on regulation on the medical industry titled “PHARMAPHOBIA: How the Conflict of Interest Myth Undermines American Medical Innovation.” Many bureaucrats, reporters, politicians, and lawyers have built careers attacking the medical products industry. In this work, Dr. Stossel shows how attacks on doctors who work with industry limits medical innovation and inhibits the process of bringing new products into medical care.

There are two principal reasons for writing the book. The first is to set the record straight about what has been accomplished.

The second reason is to expose how for the past 30 years opportunists have been responsible for minimizing industry’s contributions to health improvements and denying the costs of achieving them. These individuals claim that if health care professionals or researchers take payments from those industries, they become corrupt and risk their reputations by performing flawed research or harming patients for money. The code slur for this alleged behavior is “conflict of interest.” I define these critics as “conflict-of interest narrative instigators.”

These instigators are wrong, and I wrote the book to set the record straight. The book collates the facts and arguments that can be used to rebut the confident but false assertions of the conflict-of-interest instigators.

The “code slur” is a clue that the support for a desired position cannot deal with the realities of the issue but must instead devolve into allegation and innuendo about the opposition. As the author points out, this slur is also a distraction that is used to weigh honest research down with regulations and policies intended to show it isn’t so and to inhibit research by establishing social barriers. We all pay and it is not only in medicine that this occurs.

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