Pharma wants its money back if Academic Science proves to be tosh

Will the ProfG's  be quaking in their boots as the Charcot 1 Project flopped and Merck (American version) sunk money into their black hole of clinical trials. Now Merck are saying they want their money back when academic science is not reporducible, based on this recent article which I have swiped (CLICK

If academic discoveries turn out to be wrong, one drug company wants its money back......

That’s the tough-minded proposal floated by the chief medical officer of Merck & Co as a way to fix the “reproducibility crisis,” of published scientific reports turn out to be incorrect......

Michael Rosenblatt, Merck’s executive vice president and chief medical officer, said bad results from academic labs caused pharmaceutical companies to waste millions and “threatens the entire biomedical research enterprise.”.................

It seems that Pharma have now realised that there is a load of rubbish that is published in the Science suspects much of the Pop Science that appears in the top Science rags falls into this catagegory, as we see it day in day out. 

However, the MDs take pride in the fact that our data is reproducible and have been surprised when people have come up to us to say that they can reproduce our work..Isn't this the case for all work? 

Well clearly not and there is a load of guff published, which has more holes in it than a piece of Swiss Cheese.

Pharma, like academia, have the lemming behaviour and follow the pack...often over the edge of a cliff. A few minutes thinking may save them from the drop.

Wrong results are also a problem for translational research—the kind drug companies do when they try to turn biological discoveries into actual medicines........

Yep many results won't translate to a different lab, let alone to a human and it is often easy to see why...there is no Quality control in the published work. If you spot this thenyou may save a few bob

Since companies don’t want their cash draining down ratholes.....

So why send millions courting clinicians?

 Merck are among the few organizations that have taken the trouble to double check results.

As part of the due diligance process when they acquire academic science, companies will double check results, yes it wastes money.

The key is also to have a lab doing the work that is dependable using a system that works, where there is no vested interest in the result 

I have seen pharma data from the 9-5ers where the academic lab has not checked whats happening at the weekend. These results are largely pants as they miss key information

As long as the experiment has quality control so it is believeable, I can live with the result even if it doesn't go the way I wanted it to go. A negative result can be as informative as a positive result but it takes longer to work out, why a negative result was negative.

In the case of the Canbex, as they could not go to any other lab in the world to get our stuff reproduced, they came and stood over us and watched us repeat our earlier work.

"The results aren’t pretty. Back in 2012, the biotechnology company Amgen dropped a bomb on academic science when it said it found only six of 53 “landmark” cancer papers stood up to efforts to reproduce the results of promising new research. Other studies that drug companies say can’t be replicated include one that found a cancer drug might treat Alzheimer’s and another that showed a particular gene was linked to diabetes in mice."

Maybe it is time that there was PloS Negative results:-) and those failed experiments can all be published and it would quickly show that the original research was wrong

We did some stuff on a Nature paper that did not work. It turns out that at least six labs did the same. 

However, it is not good for your career to be spending all you time saying that the stuff published by the Science semi-god is built on quick sand especially if you are an American junior researcher trying to reproduce an Amercian Demi-God who sits on all the grant panels. 

When I was a young researcher..I was once warned by one such Amercian demi-god "Don't get into doing these experiments because we are bigger than you" My response was "we had done them already and the the research idea didn't work". This was indeed what turned out to be the case, but it took a clinical trial to flop for this to be realised by the masses...but it is clear that for some people "S**t don't stick" and there are alot of teflon men and women in Science:-)

Rosenblatt says the costs of repeating wrong research are adding up. He says on average it takes “approximately two to six scientific personnel one to two years of work in an industry laboratory” to try to reproduce original experiments at an average cost of $500,000 to $2 million.

They must be paying their staff too much or the contract research organisation they are using are too expensive:-(

In his editorial, published in Science Translational Medicine, Merck’s medical chief paints a dire picture:

As the public, government, and private funders of research comprehend the extent of the problem, trust in the scientific enterprise erodes, and confidence in the ability of the scientific community to address this problem wanes. In addition, there is considerable potential for reputational damage to scientists, universities, and entire fields (for example, cancer biology, genomics, and psychology). 

Why is science wrong so often? Merck lists the usual suspects: pressure to publish and win grants, careerism, poor training of students, and journals that don’t review reports rigorously enough.

It is true that the system is geared to rewarding those publishing in the top journals in terms of grants and jobs and the pressure comes from Governments. The Research Assessment Exercises in UK put pressure on Universities (who get their money based on performance) who can then put pressure on their staff to publish, publish, publish 

Instead of trying to fix cultural problems in labs or passing new regulations, Merck thinks some punitive economic incentives are in order, specifically, a “full or partial money-back guarantee.” That is, if research that drug companies pay for turns out to be wrong, universities would have to give back the funding they got. Merck thinks this will put the pressure right where it belongs, on the scientists.

This is not an incentive surely it is a punishment, but an uninforcable punishment. I publish something and Merck goes away and does it badly and I then have to pay them...yer right.

I have a good example when pharma was doing some EAE work and they could not get it to work.  We had not been asked by them to supply protocols and had been paying another lab for advice.

They made up their own protocol based on what they thought we were doing. We swopped our material used to induce EAE, ours worked in our mice ours worked in their mice, their's didn;t work in their mice and didn't work in our mice.....If it ain't broke don't fix it,,but people will tinker...The company lab was closed down

However if companies give millions to universities to develop their patents, then do they have a point? 

However, I have been saying that clinicans destroy good ideas by bad it is not all bad science. 

But I do know that pharma do repeat stuff....maybe they should publish it and then the demi-gods would not be see to be such demi gods and then the lemmings may stop following them.

It’s unlikely that universities will jump at Merck’s offer for more accountability. That’s because they are set up to collect R&D money, not return it. If this became a requirement it would stop [university-industry] research in its tracks,” says David Winwood, a business development executive at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “Few if any public schools would have either the (financial) capacity or, I suspect, the legal authority, to enter into such an agreement.”

Buyer beware

Drug companies aren’t saints, either. Suppressing and massaging negative results from drug trials isn’t uncommon and it’s a lot more likely to harm patients than bungled academic research..... 

The other problem with Merck’s proposal to universities is it would open a kind of Pandora’s box of accountability.....companies paid for $4.6 billion in “sponsored” research at U.S. universities, hospitals, and research centers in 2014. The federal (US) government, on the other hand, spent $37.9 billion. 

So is most taxpayer-funded research wrong, too? 

Read papers... I have shown you how to read EAE papers and if they have no quality control in  hem, you can be have a fair guess that they will turn out to be mushroom food and non-reproducible. You will be abe to spot some stuff on the blog

It is funny that some people forget and can't even repeat their own published work so if that isn't based on quick sand I don't know what is.

Likewise it is a shame that companies don't think enough but the lemming mentality prevails and it is clear that some companies that have bought a load of turkies

Maybe it’s taxpayers, not Merck, who should get a check(Cheque) in the mail.

Light touch paper and stand back..remember don't kill the messenger