Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Don’t Bite the Hand that Funds

By Guy Nolch

Corporate interests have a heavy hand in how research is designed, conducted and reported.

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In February 2017, the American Association for the Advancement of Science staged the launch of the Brussels Declaration (https://goo.gl/Ss6Mp5), which Nature described as a “20-point blueprint for a set of ethics and principles to inform work at the boundaries of science, society and policy” (https://goo.gl/Jz9VMK).

However, an investigation published in Tobacco Control (https://goo.gl/caZBRN) has found that the Declaration’s consultative process was infiltrated by corporate interests, including the alcohol industry and the “substantial presence of representatives from the tobacco industry”. The study points out: “The Brussels Declaration argues for the need to protect science from distortion by vested interests. Yet it appears to be a vehicle for advancing the vested interests of certain corporate sectors.” As a result, the 20-point plan “fails to address the need for safeguards to protect the integrity of science or policy from corporate interests”.

Three studies co-authored by University of Sydney researchers have shed further light on the influence of corporate funding on research. An analysis in The BMJ of 200 trials of vaccines, drugs and devices published...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.