Research increasingly supported by industry


  • Carrie Printz

Researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, have found that nearly half of the research presented at the 2011 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting came from researchers with industry ties, and that amount is increasing every year.

Their findings were presented at the 2012 ASCO annual meeting held in Chicago, Illinois, in June. Although the findings show that cancer research is becoming increasingly dependent on industry, it does not mean that the studies are flawed or biased, says author Angela Bradbury, MD, assistant professor in the department of clinical genetics at the Fox Chase Cancer Center. Still, the research community needs to understand these relationships and find ways to manage possible conflicts of interest, she says.

All authors who want to present their research at the ASCO annual meeting are required to indicate whether they have any relationships with industry by noting if they are employed by a company, own stock, serve as a consultant or expert witness, or receive honoraria for talks or research projects. When Dr. Bradbury and colleagues reviewed the research submitted to the 2011 meeting, they found that 48% of research accepted for presentation came from a group where at least one author had a relationship with industry. That figure rose from 39% in 2006 and has increased each year. A second abstract by the same authors found that high-profile research selected to be featured prominently at the meeting was more likely to come from scientists with industry relationships.

Given that other funding sources have declined, these results are not surprising, says coauthor Beverly Moy, MD, MPH, clinical director of the breast oncology program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.