The ongoing economic crunch has claimed yet another casualty – the Integrity in Science Watch program that was run by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The nonprofit organization, which is based in Washington, D.C., last week closed the effort due to a lack of funding, according to a CSPI spokesman.
ISW was a valuable source of weekly information that spotlighted the various conflicts of interest in science and medicine that are found in government agencies, academia, hospitals and industry. The digest, which was overseen by AHCJ member Merrill Goozner, a former journalist for the Chicago Tribune, aimed to highlight examples that the media may have missed and regularly follow up pertinent examples that faded from public view.
The ISW project was launched nearly three years ago as a way of publicizing conflicts, highlighting attention to the issue, and “casting an investigative eye on stories that had not yet hit the public eye,” says Goozner, who is contemplating transferring the effort to his weekly blog about health topics called GoozNews. “I think the Integrity in Science project at CSPI helped raise the profile of the conflict of interest in science in general, and in medicine in particular.”
What was he proud of pursuing? Analyzing the prevalence of failures to disclose conflicts in medical literature (2004); helping The New York Times unmask conflicts on the 2005 FDA advisory panel that evaluated Vioxx after the drug was withdrawn; lobbying for a ban on conflicts of interest on FDA advisory committees through the House (which failed in the Senate but obtaied greater disclosure of waivers and a two-week advance notice provision as a compromise – 2006); put that into law (2007).