Scientific Secrecy and 'Spin': The Sad, Sleazy Saga of the Trials of Remune
39 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2005 Last revised: 8 Feb 2014
Date Written: March 24, 2005
The story I shall be exploring is certainly a disturbing one: a drug company funds a large-scale trial of its new AIDS therapy; when the results are unfavorable, the company tries to prevent their being published; when the researchers go ahead with publication anyway, the company seeks millions of dollars in damages; eventually, newspaper headlines tell us it gets zilch, but the arbitration proceedings are private, so beyond that we know - well, zilch; the same year, an action is filed alleging that the firm had manipulated its stock price by misleading the public about the effectiveness of this drug; four years later, with this suit still pending, the company website affirms that previous clinical trials demonstrate the drug's effectiveness.
Of course, when you look closely things are more complicated than they seem at first; and anyway, I don't want just to work up a good head of righteous indignation, but to offer you something with real theoretical backbone. So the plan is to sketch an account of what science is and does that suggests how and why the ways in which scientific work is funded can distort or even block its progress, to put this theory to work in the course of an analysis of the troubled history of the trials, clinical and legal, of Immune Response's AIDS drug, Remune, and to conclude with some thoughts about industrial sponsorship of scientific research in the universities.
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