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Bias in science and medical knowledge: the Opren Controversy
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-07, 23:17 authored by John Abraham
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.
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- Sociology and Criminology Publications
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