Subject: Re: Examples needed against Soft Patents
From: Ben Tilly <btilly@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 24 Dec 2004 11:55:03 -0800

On Fri, 24 Dec 2004 08:57:59 -0500, Jerry Dwyer <gdwyer@dwyerecon.com> wrote:
>  Just a side light.
>  
>  Companies probably are no better and no worse than researchers in general
> where money isn't even involved in a serious way. When writing up results,
> things that are not entirely consistent with the presented results can be
> explained away -- conclusions that some readers would agree with and some
> not. The not-entirely-consistent results tend to be suppressed because they
> are a distraction.

That's just human nature.  See Kuhn's opus on scientific revolutions for
more.

But to human nature companies add all sorts of other biases.

For a random example there's the fact that companies do a lot of
safety testing on each other's products which ordinarily is only
revealed if it showed evidence of problems in the other drugs.  There's 


>  Research financed by companies actually may be better about disclosure
> because companies are more likely to be sued.

There's a long history of companies promoting biased research that
makes me doubt this theory.  I have a lot of faith that human
stupidity will cause people to reach for a cover-up first.  Particularly
in organizations that promote always covering your own back first.
(That would be most large companies.)  History says that the
cover-up is usually worse than the initiating scandal, and I see no
reason to believe that human nature has changed.

Furthermore companies do a lot of interesting research into drugs
put out by competitors.  One of the reasons is that they are looking
for side-effects that can get competing drugs pulled.  The trials that
found no evidence of side-effects have valuable data that in the
ordinary course of affairs would not get published.  And the threat
of lawsuits does not motivate openness.

Cheers,
Ben