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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Deja Vu All Over Again as to Sponsored Research: Coke Keeps Learning the Lesson that Transparency Ma

Some collections of human are slow learners or have other issues. For example, Coke just took yet another public relations hit for lack of transparency when sponsoring health related research, as explained in a November 6, 2015 article in the NY Times.

Sponsored research can be a very, very good thing for myriad reasons. Indeed, sponsored research can originate in wider range of ways, ranging from the interests of labor groups to big business to people with rare diseases to wealthy donors interested in a topic for personal reasons. For example, Michael J. Fox and Sergey Brin (co-founder of Google and investor in 23andme) are both major advocates and donors for research against Parkinson’s due to present and potential health risks, as described in a June 5, 2015 article in Forbes.

But, transparency is crucial, as I’ve been saying for years under the topic “Sponsored Research”, and so have others. Apparently Coke did not get the prior memos from me, Ken Argentieri at Duane Morris, or anyone else. In a now paywalled article of August 16, 2011  in the National Law Journal, Mr. Argienteri explained his views, which can be seen in full at his page at Duane Morris under publications. A key excerpt is set out below but the entire article should be read and considered:

“To potentially alleviate concerns and criticisms of corporate-funded research, researchers may be required to share data and support the study’s reliability in regulatory and judicial proceedings. Such openness about funding, methodology and results can help curb common criticisms regarding lack of transparency. By increasing access to privately funded data with appropriate safeguards, corporations can improve their standing with the public as well as in courtrooms across the United States. 

Corporate-sponsored research has in many instances become an indispensable aid to the advancement of knowledge in the scientific community. The stigmatization of corporate-sponsored research should not dissuade corporations and industries from continuing to invest in research, both inside and outside of the litigation context. Corporate litigants should consider taking on courts and opposing parties directly and challenging the judicial system to evaluate the merits of the studies under the standards set forth by the Supreme Court in Daubert and its progeny — regardless of the financial backing.

Kenneth M. Argentieri is the co-chairman of the products liability group at Duane Morris and is based in the firm’s Pittsburgh office. Gerald J. Schirato Jr. is a litigation associate in that office.”

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