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US doctor smeared for raising drug concerns news service
13 June 2007

When a well-respected doctor raises concerns about the side effects of an important medicine, you'd expect drug safety officials to investigate. Instead, a spokesman for the US Food and Drug Administration is alleged to have chosen a different strategy: smearing the doctor in question.

Steve Nissen, chair of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, investigated the safety of the diabetes drug Avandia, in a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine this March. Avandia is approved by the FDA, but Nissen found that it significantly increased the risk of heart attack. It was the latest blow to the FDA, which has been repeatedly criticised for failing to spot dangerous side effects.

According to ABC News, FDA spokesman Douglas Arbesfeld emailed health reporters drawing attention to a blog that accuses Nissen of focusing his criticism on drug manufacturers that do not run trials at the Cleveland Clinic - a charge Nissen rejects. The FDA declined to comment.

From issue 2607 of New Scientist magazine, 13 June 2007, page 7