Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Another way to support open access - call in to radio shows

So - I was driving today from Davis to Walnut Creek to attend the Joint Genome Institutes Scientific Advisory Council meeting (more on this hopefully later as I got lots of good advice from the SAC group which includes George Weinstock, Bruce Birren, Joe Ecker, Mark Adams, and Eric Mathur (who is perhaps the most energetic person I ever met)).

Anyway - on the drive over, I was listening to KQED's Forum Show and they were doing a story on Avandia, the type II diabetes drug. A recent report on this drug indicates that taking it leads to a significant increase in very negative "side effects" like death. Most interesting and upsetting to me, the lead author of the new study said something to the effect of "our new study was limited significantly because we could not get access to the full results of the clinical trials on Avandia." This is really stunning. Here is a drug making GSK billions of dollars and yet the clinical trial data that underlies the approval of this drug is not readily available for other people to look at. What is wrong with this picture? I though science was about building on prior results. If you can't get the data, how exactly do you confirm what someone else did and how do you build on their results? Apparently, medicine does not follow the same procedures.

So I seethed while in the car. And then, I got stuck in a traffic jam (normally I take the train, but was unable to today). And at the same time, they announced the call in number. So I called -- the first time I have ever even tried to call one of these shows. And on the second try it rang. And a man answered and asked for my first name and my question/comment. And then, I was on the air ... asking about whether there were any attempts to make clinical trial data more readily available (OK, I knew there were attempts, but I was not sure of the details and they needed to be asked on the air anyway).

And if you want to know what I said, and what they said, well listen to the show (I am on at minute ~ 34).

Wed, May 23, 2007 -- 9:00 AM
Avandia and Diabetes
Listen Listen (RealMedia stream)
Listen Download (MP3)
(Windows: right-click and choose "Save Target As." Mac: hold Ctrl, click link, and choose "Save As.")

And to add to the bonus of being on the air, Jim Bristow, Deputy Director of JGI, was, like me, a bit late to the SAC meeting at JGI. And he came up to me and asked if that was indeed me on the air while I was supposed to be at the meeting. To learn more about clinical trial access, see PLoS Clinical Trials.

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