Drug Industry Lobbyists Kept Clinical Trial Results Secret

The Sunlight Foundation reports on how lobbyists for the pharmaceutical and medical device industries impacted one woman's health problems.

Suffering from debilitating migraines, Bray Patrick-Lake volunteered for a Food and Drug Administration-regulated clinical trial. But three months after joining the study, it was abruptly halted. Device manufacturer St. Jude Medical Inc. said the study didn't have enough volunteers.

Patrick-Lake was unable to find out the results of the trial, which required her to undergo a surgical procedure to have a device implanted in her heart. It helped her migraines, but it caused some other problems.

She wonders if St. Jude knows of problems with the device that the company is not revealing. But she has no way of finding out. "I think I have the right to know that," she says. It upset her to find that because the trial was cancelled, St. Jude Medical was not required to release trial results to her or to anybody else. "To provide for my own best care in the future, I should know everything about this device and be able to share that with my doctor.

Health industry lobbyists pressed lawmakers to change the wording in a bill that would have required public access to results of clinical trials that don't result in an approved drug or device, reports the Sunlight Foundation.

In 2007, the pharmaceutical and device industries funneled $3.4 million to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Health Education and Labor Committees as they debated legislation on transparency in clinical trials.

Time reported earlier this month that the pharmaceutical industry has spent more than any other segment of the medical industry lobbying for health care legislation in 2009. Drug companies and their trade organizations spent more than $110 million, or $609,000 a day, to craft health care policy to their liking.

The drug industry's Washington lobbyists outnumber members of Congress by 2.3 to one, according to Time.