Attorneys: Scientific free speech 'threatened'

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Attorneys Arnold Friede and Robert Nicholas (both McDermott, Will & Emery) say calls for an investigation into support for the American Heart Association (AHA) and American College of Cardiology are likely to convince other scientific groups not to speak out on issues of public concern. The two groups were criticized for issuing statements on the results of the controversial Vytorin ENHANCE study.

Writing in a Washington Legal Foundation Legal Backgrounder, Friede and Nicholas say the statements issued by the groups did little more than to advise patients to consult doctors before stopping taking Vytorin.

However, the House Energy and Commerce Committee reportedly plans to send letters to the two groups opening an investigation into their relationships with drug manufacturers because their statements did not disclose the company financial support they receive.

The attorneys say no one can question the status of the AHA and American College of Cardiology as scientific speakers in the debate about some of the most important public health issues of our time, even if they receive some financial support from commercial interests. 

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