Just a brief addition to my blog on the credibility of Sir Rory Collins from the Clinical Trial Service Unit at the University of Oxford in the statins debate. He was the lead author of research that suggested statins are safe and effective.
I lack the skills to enter the medical debate but I did suggest that we should make ourselves better informed about Sir Rory by googling the relevant information about him.
I am always interested in the lead figures in any inquiry and what their external links may be – particularly on issues where opinion is still ferociously divided.
It did not take long for questions to be raised about Sir Rory’s connections with the drug industry.
His response was that “we get funding from the pharmaceutical industry to do research which is run independently through Oxford University. We hold the data, we analyse the data, we interpret the data.”
Now, I have warned a number of times in my blogs on the way cases are presented of the need to be careful when anyone claims their research is independent.
There may be examples where funded research reaches conclusions that do not support the case of the funders and that these conclusions are presented energetically to the press and public.
But I doubt if there are many. And I am always suspicious about anyone funded by organisations with an interest who keeps insisting that the research is “independent.”
The principle is simple. Research of any kind, whether or not it is credible, should not be described as “independent” if it is financed by someone with a commercial interest.