Bias in science and medical knowledge: the Opren Controversy

Abraham, John (1994) Bias in science and medical knowledge: the Opren Controversy. Sociology, 28 (3). pp. 717-736. ISSN 14407833

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Analysis of the scientific evaluation of medicine safety has been neglected in sociology. This article examines the influence of interests and values on scientists' safety evaluation of the medical drug Opren in industrial and government contexts. By systematically identifying inconsistencies in the technical justifications of industrial and government scientists it is argued that the concept of interest-based bias is crucial for explaining the development of medical knowledge. Specifically, evidence is adduced to suggest that industrial interests biased scientists' production and interpretation of medical knowledge about Opren with potentially adverse consequences for patients' interests in safe medication. The Mertonian `ethos' of science is seen to have very little application to the work of scientists in the context of drug regulation, giving way to institutional instrumentalism. The paper concludes by proposing an alternative system for the clinical testing and regulation of drugs which could discourage such industrial bias and provide greater patient protection.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Sociology
Depositing User: John Abraham
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 19:32
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2012 11:43
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