Corrigendum II…

Posted on Tuesday 20 September 2011

I’m still using the term Corrigendum all wrong. I picked it facetiously, after the recent post about the Risperdone augmentation studies where this five dollar word for benign printing errors was used to correct things that may well have been deliberate ommission or mis-statement – covering one’s tracks. I’m misusing it by proxy to say that I think that Dr. McGorry should’ve mentioned the application for the patents on ω-3 Fatty Acids to prevent or treat psychosis himself, no matter what it means [rather than leaving some old psychiatrist on a mountain across the world trying to figure it out]. It just doesn’t look good. But a commenter seems to have cleared up at least some of the confusion I had in Corrigendum I.

A comment to the last post says:
    In the US, the natural person that is the inventor has to apply for the patent. Inventors can then assign the patent to their employer [or any other person]. Outside the US, the employer (assignee) can apply for the patent. This actually does not present any conflict of interest.
I have no reason to doubt this clarification and appreciate getting it. It certainly explains the differing information on the International and US Patent Applications in Corrigendum I. So that would mean that the world’s patents for ω-3 Fatty Acids to prevent or treat psychosis are all assigned to Orygen rather than to inventors Amminger and McGorry personally.

But I’m not sure I totally agree with the second part, "does not present any conflict of interest." We’ve been through that here in the US with Dr. Schatzberg’s Mifepristone. The patent was assigned to Stanford, but there was an internal agreement that cut in Dr. Schatzberg and his private company. I’m not saying that Dr. McGorry and Orygen have such an arrangement, but, after all, he is their Executive Director, so we’d like to know about that. But it is comforting to know it’s not a personal patent.

The requirements of the law and scientific ethic differ substantively. In the Law, a person is "innocent until proven guilty." That’s as it should be. In the world of science, any undeclared potential conflict of interest is in the the "guilty until proven innocent" category, contingent on a suitable explanation or declaration. So if you work for or are getting paid by a company whose drug is used in your study, that fact needs to be declared. That doesn’t remove a suspicion of bias, but it does allow the rest of us to consider it in our evaluations of a grant request, an ethics hearing, an article, a report, or a program. The standard is transparency

That there have been too many wolves in sheep’s clothing is a matter of public record. That now means that all sheep have to qualify for the position. The thing about sheep – we don’t mind doing it. I’m a sheep too, and I don’t mind apologizing for over-reading the patent application…

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