For years, critics have accused governments of limiting or even censoring scientific research that could potentially prove detrimental to the pharmaceutical industry or disprove their theories about disease and obesity.
Many people believe that big pharma companies influence academic researchers in order to promote FDA-approved drugs. Others argue that studies funded by drug companies are not conducted with an adequate level of scrutiny due to pressure put on investigators from executives.
Pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson spend billions per year marketing new products so it makes sense that they would want to make sure those treatments work. But some say that money can’t create trust anymore.
Apex is a website launched back in 2014 that collects data on all federally funded clinical trials for any condition. The site was created by Harvard Medical School alumni who wanted to give patients more information than what federal agencies typically provide.
Since its launch, many hospitals and nonprofit groups use Apex to help find eligible studies and report the results to others. It has also been used to identify potential conflicts of interest or irregularities under Federal Regulations.
The new law affects how government funds scientific research
Under the newly passed USA General Law, Congress has explicitly outlawed any federal funding of “research or studies that focus on understanding or altering human sexuality.”
This includes studying the effects of sex education programs in schools, determining whether sexual practices are healthy for individuals and/or society, and exploring the potential benefits of different sexual lifestyles.
It also covers looking into the link between homosexuality, bisexuality, and other types of sexual orientations and mental health issues.
Given this legislation, it is very important to understand what kinds of studies are allowed to occur. Proposals must be reviewed by the Federal Funding Opportunities website before they can be awarded a grant.
The government is trying to reduce government funding of scientific research
Over the past few years, there have been many allegations made against large pharmaceutical companies that they do not fully disclose all information about their products to regulators and doctors.
Some allege that these corporations make misleading statements about their drugs’ effectiveness or potential side effects for financial gain.
Other studies claim that drug companies stop performing certain experiments due to fear of being exposed as dishonest. This, some say, results in people suffering needlessly from ineffective treatments or even deadly ones.
The federal agency in charge of overseeing how pharmaceuticals are marketed to the public is the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, recent reports show that it too may be working for bigger pharma companies more often than not.
In fact, according to an article published by Vox last year, between 2012 and 2016 the FDA rejected claims related to only one out of every 1,000 approved drug advertisements. That means 99% of all ads were allowed to run without any restrictions.
Scientists are concerned about the new law
Many scientists feel that the NSF Policy will have negative effects on research due to potential budget cuts or restrictions on conducting certain studies. Some believe it could even hurt public health by limiting the availability of quality testing materials or equipment needed for investigations.
Some worry as well that changes made to promote “alternative” medicine may actually do more harm than good. Reducing access to adequate, scientifically-validated treatments can actually prevent people from seeking them out, putting their health at risk.
Another area of concern is whether the government should be involved in what types of science get done. An NSF policy that encourages only “gold standard” approaches to studying nature and disease runs the risk of suppressing innovative ideas that could prove valuable.
The federal funding agency was originally created to encourage basic scientific research, but some fear this mission has been lost over time. These fears seem particularly acute now, when Congress seems determined to emphasize applications aimed at large profits rather than advances that benefit everyone.
Scientists must get government approval before they can get funding
As mentioned earlier, federal agencies recruit researchers to do research and grant them funds to conduct that research. To be able to do this, scientists need to prove their research is legitimate and will have an effect in the field.
Agencies require formal documents called “sponsor agreements” as proof that the researcher has the appropriate permissions to perform the experiment or study. These sponsor agreements are not limited to just scientific experiments, but also cover things like using human test subjects or publishing results about the experiment online or in journals.
These contracts usually come with very specific deadlines and stipulations, so it is important to make sure you meet them! If you don’t, your chance of being paid for your work goes down rapidly.
There are many ways people get tricked into signing these contracts so there are some general rules we can use to determine if one is fake or not. By looking at some examples, you should know what to look out for.
There are many examples of how the government has controlled scientific research in the past
The United States Congress is actively trying to prevent our governments, universities, and medical professionals from using cannabis as a medicine.
Many politicians believe that pharmaceutical companies create an illusion of health by marketing their products while making huge profits off of diseases like depression and pain.
By limiting access to cannabis for patients, corporations make sure they keep doing well because there’s no competition for their drugs.
So, even though it may be more effective than what we have now, people will be struggling to afford or get quality marijuana treatments if necessary.
This can also hurt public trust in legitimate institutions since most large businesses use at least some kind of cannabis product in their manufacturing processes.
Scientists should try to get government approval for research they want to do
As mentioned earlier, federal funding is not always given to done-for-profit projects. Sometimes it is used for studies or experiments that are more profitable for the researcher or the sponsoring company.
This kind of sponsored work is an unethical waste of resources. The sponsors’ influence also may interfere with the results of the study or experiment.
Research that has financial backing is sometimes called “soft” science because it uses techniques such as interviews, questionnaires, and surveys rather than controlled experimentation.
Scientists should try to get research they want to do approved by the government
As much as we might like to think that scientists are free to conduct their studies without interference, this is not always the case. Even if you’re just looking to gather observational data, or perform small experiments, there are many ways your study can be limited or even stopped before it ever starts.
As a researcher, you will need to be aware of what types of studies are allowed so that you don’t violate any regulations. Additionally, you must know how to navigate the approval process for each type of study!
There are several agencies in our country that oversee scientific research. These organizations either approve or deny permission to carry out specific studies. They also review reports and papers related to the studies that have been given permission.
Scientific research should be encouraged by the government
As we have seen, scientific research is heavily influenced by large corporations that want to influence findings for their own benefits. Corporations fund most of the research conducted in universities, so how much money an individual researcher gets paid impacts what studies they conduct and what conclusions they reach.
Researchers are also reluctant to publish negative results or studies that do not produce positive outcomes for the industry that sponsors them. This effect is called ‘publication bias’ because researchers may only report information that gives their sponsored products a good name.
There has been significant controversy about the safety and effectiveness of various foods, medications, and cosmetic products due to this publication bias. It can even affect whether or not people believe in certain health theories or treatments!
Another way corporate sponsorship influences academic research is through funding charities and non-profit organizations working towards a common goal. For example, Coca Cola donates enough money each year to make a difference between whether children will be fed water or sodas as part of their school lunch program.
After researching both sides, the best conclusion is that drinking sugary beverages does not help prevent obesity. So Coke pays professors to suggest otherwise so parents give their kids more soda instead of water. The same thing happens with cigarettes and smoking cessation.
Public health agencies and charity groups are actively trying to dispel harmful myths about nutrition, weight loss, and disease prevention.