What to do with sponsored research – take it at face value, disregard it completely, or use it subject to considering whether to reduce its weight due to the sponsorship (assuming the sponsorship is disclosed). The debate today ranges across a wide spectrum of information sources and decision-makers.

Of note yesterday, an NYT article by Reed Abelson reports that the Cleveland Clinic announced plans to make disclosure of all payments from drug companies and other sources. According to the article:

“It appears to be the first such step by a major medical center to disclose the industry relationships of individual doctors. And it comes as the nation’s doctors and hospitals are under mounting pressure to address potential financial conflicts of interest that can occur when they work closely with companies to develop and research new drugs and devices.
The Cleveland Clinic’s Web postings are the most recent part of a conflict-of-interest effort at the clinic after some of its leading doctors came under fire several years ago when the news media disclosed some of their financial links.”

On the topic more generally, one good source for general reading is a cogent New York Times article by Adam Liptak regarding the Exxon Valdez case and its footnote 17 regarding the Court’s refusal to rely on research sponsored by Exxon. Titled From One Footnote, a Debate Over the Tangles of Law, Science and Money,” the article also details a like ruling by Judge Weinstein in a drug class action.

The sponsored research topic also is being aired through symposia, such as Cornell sponsoring a symposium on Empirical Legal Studies (agenda here). There also is a good blog devoted to Empirical Legal Studies.