The More we learn …..
Before we even get started Diabetic Investor wants to make sure everyone understands we have attempted to contact Dr. Steven Nissen for comment but so far no response. Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s get back to the business at hand. According to Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NV0) Dr. Nissen is not being compensated directly for his work, but the Cleveland Clinic – Dr. Nissen’s employer is receiving funding from Novo Nordisk. According to an email received from a Novo spokesperson “funding has gone to the Cleveland Clinic”.
If this sounds familiar it should as back when the Avandia controversy was going on it was reported that Dr. Nissen was doing a large study for Actos, which at the time was Avandia’s primary competition. It was also reported that the good doctor and/or his Clinic received millions of dollars to do a study of Celebrex just when he was raising concerns over Vioxx. It should also be noted that Diabetic Investor did attempt to contact the Cleveland Clinic to get their comments but the media relations office was closed, we will try again tomorrow.
First and foremost let’s be very clear here, Diabetic Investor has no issues with the Dr. Nissen or his clinic making money, this is America and the last time we looked it is still legal to make a living. Nor do we have problem with Dr. Nissen or his clinic performing studies for drug companies or helping companies like Novo with their studies. Diabetic Investor is not claiming that Dr. Nissen is unqualified, far from it he is a recognized expert and it’s understandable these companies want to hire the best people they can find.
This whole issue boils down to two items – full and complete disclosure and second – coincidence.
In the eyes of Diabetic Investor and many others it doesn’t matter if Dr. Nissen did not personally benefit from these companies when they money went to the clinic where he works. Given that the Cleveland Clinic employs Dr. Nissen the money they receive to do studies eventually ends up in Dr. Nissen’s bank account.
We also don’t buy for one minute that it’s just happens to be a coincidence that Dr. Nissen or his clinic just happens to come out against drugs that are competing with the ones they just happen to be studying. If this happened just once we might be less inclined to see a correlation. However, when this happens on a regular basis it is no longer a coincidence. In a court of law they call this circumstantial evidence; at Diabetic Investor we say fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, fool me three times and you should work for Roche.
Diabetic Investor is not attempting to embarrass or dump on Dr. Nissen or the Cleveland Clinic, far from it. Dr. Nissen is a leading cardiologist and the Cleveland Clinic has a solid reputation. Both have performed excellent work. However both Dr. Nissen and the Cleveland Clinic should understand that it is in everyone’s best interest to fully disclose any financial relationships they have with drug companies. Diabetic Investor would not be digging here if they had done so.
The reality is by not fully disclosing these relationships it gives the appearance of impropriety. There may be nothing at all going on here and we are not asserting they are doing anything illegal. What we are looking for is the truth or put more bluntly we want to make sure their research is not biased by those who pay them to do the research. For scientific research to be of any value we need to know that no one or no company swayed influence over the results of the research.
As Diabetic Investor noted in one of our responses to Dr. Nissen’s emails, when he was communicating with Diabetic Investor, no one person or one company is more important than helping patients with diabetes. This can only be accomplished with solid, unbiased scientific research that allows for full and complete public debate where all voices are heard, not just the ones that happen to agree with the conclusions of the research. America is a great democracy and for a democracy to prosper dissent is not prevented by actually encouraged. As the late President John F Kennedy wrote in Profiles in Courage; “The true democracy, living and growing and inspiring, puts its faith in the people – faith that the people will not simply elect men who will represent their views ably and faithfully, but also elect men who will exercise their conscientious judgment – faith that the people will not condemn those whose devotion to principle leads them to unpopular courses, but will reward courage, respect honor and ultimately recognize right.”