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Business Research Methods Res/351

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Business Research Ethics
Elizabeth McUne
January 14th, 2013
Abdulhamid Sukar

Business Research Ethics
In the article “Conflicted Medical Journals and the Failure of Trust” the issue of pharmaceutical businesses and their research, and how it is presented is outlined. The article covers one of the largest controversies with business research conducted by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and how the results were skewed and then reported by many medical journals as fact, even though the research did not support what was reported. The study was GSK 329, which showed a particular drug to be effective in adolescents with depression, even though the testing showed otherwise. (Jureidini & McHenry, 2011)
The biggest unethical behavior that was demonstrated by GSK, and medical journals was the skewing of results of a study. Medical journals published articles that misrepresented the findings of GSK’s research. Internal reports by the company showed that their trials of the drug had failed to benefit adolescents with depression, and positively showed that there were negative results. (Jureidini & McHenry, 2011) The internal report states that “it would be commercially unacceptable to include a statement that efficacy had not been demonstrated, as this would undermine the profile of paroxetine,” and that “to effectively manage the dissemination of data in order to minimize any potential negative commercial impact.” (Jureidini &McHenry, 2011) This indicates that they skewed the results of the study so that only selective data would be published. The authors also place blame on the medical journals that published the results as well, saying that they too are responsible for accurately presenting the results of the company’s research.
There were many injured parties in the case of GSK. To start the company was a huge injured party, as well as the company that did the clinical trials for them. The researchers were put under pressure by investigations that followed the discovery of GSK’s false reports. The negative attention alone can affect the trust others put in their research. (Jureidini & McHenry, 2011) Others affected by the misrepresented results are the medical journals that published their results. Even though they are given information to report, they do have a duty to make sure that they are printing what is accurate. Medical journals came under scrutiny after publishing the false information, and the journal that published the results had many indications that the research was skewed according to Jureidini & McHenry. (2011) Also consumers and medical professionals were also misled by the information that was presented in medical journals by GSK’s research.
The organization GSK was very adversely affected by the publication of false research. To start they went to trial against the state of New York, which cost them not only money but it publically hurt their reputation. Also they were made to post all results of any clinical trials online, so they now had lost the power of presenting them in a way that could benefit them. In other consumer trials GSK paid out over $100 million in refunds to parents and insurance companies. (Jureidini & McHenry, 2011) The results of the fraud were reported in many major media outlets, destroying the reputation of GSK. The medical journal also was affected, with the editor having to be interviewed by networks such as BBC. A book was also published about the study, in which much of the information, it was said, should have been apparent to the medical journal. The publishing of the book, and the interviews seemed to discredit the journal. (Jureidini & McHenry, 2011) I think that society as a whole is also affected by these kinds of cases. A company that is in business with the medical field should be one that we trust the most. These are businesses that put chemicals into our bodies for no other reason than to help us with an ailment. It puts great doubt in societies mind about medical professionals in general.
The unethical behavior was resolved through the hearings, and court fines that GSK had to pay back to consumers. GSK could have taken the ethical road and chose to only report the true findings of the study even though it had cost them all the time and money that went into the research. Money is a huge motivation for unethical behavior, which is why in business, it is critical to have management in place that understands that a good reputation, and trust of consumers is something that never can be bought. The journal that published the results could have avoided the unethical publication by being more thorough in its scrutiny of the article.
Having a strong ethical consideration in business is critical, and neither GSK nor the medical journal showed this. In the case of GSK’s study 329, management failed on many levels in order for it to reach all the way to results being published in a medical journal, where management then failed again.

Jureidini, J. N., & McHenry, L. B. (2011, Jan/Feb). Conflicted medical journals and the failure of trust. Accountability in Research: Policies & Quality Assurance, 18(1), 45-54. EbscoHost.

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