Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lead Author of Precessation Nicotine Patch Article Responds to Previous Post

Dr. Jed Rose, the lead author of the article I discussed in the previous post, responded to me and in the interest of fairness, I include two important points of clarification that he made:

1."Note in particular that I do not benefit from sales of nicotine patches and hence the results of publishing this study will not impact me financially. The disclosure in the footnote was for the purpose of transparency, but does not support any criticism based on financial interest."

2. "Note also the misstatements that you are promulgating regarding the point abstinence data (point #2 below). ... Your posting has a critical omission in the discussion of “point” abstinence at 6 months. Figure 3 of our paper clearly shows that for participants who received adequate relief of tobacco withdrawal symptoms by wearing pre-cessation patches, there was a statistically significant enhancement in both point and continuous abstinence rates at 6 months."

The Rest of the Story

I have corrected the original post to indicate that Dr. Rose does not have a current financial conflict of interest, but that the conflict existed in the past (up until 2008). I apologize to Dr. Rose for implying that he still receives money from nicotine patch sales.

Whether a conflict technically exists at the present time or not, a recent conflict could still be reasonably perceived as influencing the reporting of results, so Dr. Rose is to be commended for reporting his financial interests to the journal, as they are still relevant for readers to know about.

An important point I should make about conflicts of interest is that they are a common part of clinical trial research. I would argue that without such conflicts, most drug treatment research would simply not get done. The real problem with conflicts, as I see it, is when they occur in reviews or expert panels which are making recommendations for the entire nation (such as the conflicted NIH expert panel on smoking cessation treatment).

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