“I note that Mouse Doctor’s post, whilst I was in South Africa, on conflicts of interest resulted in a heated debate. When I give a talk at a meeting, or session, that is sponsored by a company I usually tell the audience to take anything I say about that Company’s product with a pinch-of-salt. It is up to the audience to put what I say into context. It is very difficult to find an MSologist who does not have conflicts of interest. I have been told that when the FDA were recently trying to put together an advisory committee to assess a new DMT they were finding it impossible to recruit neurologists, with the necessary MS expertise, without conflicts of interest. Hence most of the neurologists on these panels are conflicted. They way to deal with the latter is to declare the conflicts and try be self-aware about the influence these conflicts have over your decision making. I suspect, however, the influence may be subliminal.”
“Please note it is not only scientists and neurologists who have conflicts of interest so do the MS Charities. You may find the following article in last week’s BMJ of interest.”
Arie & Mahony. Feature: Competing Interests – Should patient groups be more transparent about their funding? BMJ 2014; 349 (Published 29 September 2014)
….. The recent decision that the multiple sclerosis drug nabiximols should be available on the NHS in Wales was met by MS charities as a small triumph for patients…..
…. “As a charity we have campaigned over a long period for Sativex [nabiximols] to be widely available because of the significant impact that MS spasticity can have on daily activities,” Amy Bowen, director of service development at the Multiple Sclerosis Trust, told the BBC..…
…. The MS Trust failed, however, to mention either in media interviews or in lobbying documents, that it receives funding from the German drug giant Bayer, which markets the drug in the UK….
…. In June this year, the head of the MS Society, Michelle Mitchell, wrote a letter in the Daily Telegraph, co-signed by several MS experts, criticising the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for blocking access to the “life-changing” drugs nabiximols and fampridine even though “they are licensed and proven to be effective at helping people walk more easily and control painful muscle spasms.” Yet the letter did not mention that the MS Society had received money from the companies who make and market those drugs …..
…. The MS Society received over £21 000 from Biogen Idec, £46 000 from Genzyme, and £5000 from Bayer in 2013. The charity names its corporate donors on the “corporate supporters” page of its website, but to find the sums involved you have to look at the last element of the annual accounts on page 50 of its 54 page annual review..…