Diabetes Research Wars

One thing about the ADA Conference last month that I haven’t gotten around to reporting: You would not feel the jockeying for position by these huge Pharma firms around all the research announcements.   What from the exterior looks like a lot of meaningful academic pursuits is actually pure gold information that fuels flows of company.   When results are announced, they’ve got to make the ideal impression the first time.

Allow me to explain a little. As a registered media attendee, I was contacted by a number of businesses that were very anxious to short me about their latest human trials consequences.   Myself along with the dozens of journalists populating the Press Room were also encouraged to attend the numerous formal, scheduled ADA press briefing sessions as well.   Normally these items are not my bailiwick: ” I don’t follow oral diabetes medications particularly closely, and I usually the skip the proper briefings in favor of the opportunity to peruse the expo floor and meet up with movers and shakers face-to-face.

* In 1 session, a reporter raised his hand and asked why representatives from a competing Big Pharma company (Let us call them X-Pharm) were stationed outside the door of the press event passing out abstracts together with results and claims in direct contradiction to those being presented.   The physicians on the board were incensed.   “Well, they should not have that reference information” One expert nearly cried. “We only released that now!   There is no way they could have that accurate data”   WtF?

* The morning after, a very young and adorable PR gal in a suit and heels was standing away from the Press Room (the one where journalists could access the internet and perform their work) asking every passerby if they were “registered press”?   Well yes, those oversized blue title tags around our necks gave it away, and moreover she was stalking our door.   Like any perfume bunny at a department store, she was pushing small cardboard cards for … let us say… Y-Pharm Company into everybody’s hands and explaining how they simply could not miss the “study briefing” occurring in that company’s booth later that day.   She wasn’t (or only barely) taking no for an answer. WtF?

* Later that day, I had a lunch briefing with Z-Pharm Company. I was advised the week prior that our subject would be “trial design and its consequences on information”   The pre-briefing substances stated that we would “look specifically at clinical trials in Type 2 diabetes to reply often overlooked questions,” including:

•    Why do we need to think about baseline A1C levels and prior treatment when assessing a diabetes drug’s effect on average decrease in blood sugar levels?

•    Why do we need to understand if trial outcomes relies upon an all-patients-treated investigation, a completers’ analysis, or a open source extension?

As soon as I got there, but the physician and PR people in attendance did not want to discuss research methodology in any respect.   Rather, they launched into a detailed specification of why and how their drug is best-in-class. Not that this was uninteresting, mind you: I heard a great deal about various types of oral medications and the way they effect Type 2 diabetes.   But what about all that focus on “higher-quality A1c”?   (which seemed so persuasive, btw)

I pestered the PR rep until she could not stand it anymore, and eventually admitted that they’d initially expected a competitor to announce contradictory consequences at ADA, and so all that “research design” speech was ready to deposition which other research.   In other words (my words), “the other men don’t do their studies right, so that their results are bogus, and our drug is still at the top.”

We’re not talking about small business startup companies here. We are talking about major medical players whose study results impact the lives of countless diabetics.   So all the while, I’m thinking: WtF?

This type of thing was extremely common when I was used to work in the high-tech business.   Lots of dollars were at stake, but in many ways, it seemed like it was all in fun: which technology geeks could out-study and out-position which other technology geeks?   Whose GPS or phone LBS or Infrared wireless alternative could prevail?   So perhaps I’m naive, but I was just kind of shocked to understand how heavy-handed these games are in the world of medicine, in which people’s lives hang in the balance between “great results” and “manipulated outcomes”

I also learned in college to not trust statistics.   It is just that if it comes to diabetes, I want and need to trust the purpose behind them.

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For additional information click here.

Disclaimer

This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn’t adhere to Healthline’s editorial guidelines. To learn more about Healthline’s venture with Diabetes Mine, please click here.

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