Dr. Doshi’s renown comes not from solving the puzzles of cancer or discovering the next blockbuster drug, but from pushing the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies to open their records to outsiders in an effort to better understand the benefits and potential harms of the drugs that billions of people take every day.
Together with a band of far-flung researchers and activists, Doshi is trying to unearth data from clinical trials — complex studies that last for years and often involve thousands of patients across many countries — and make it public.
For years, researchers have talked about the problem of publication bias, or selectively publishing results of trials. Concern about such bias gathered force in the 1990s and early 2000s, when researchers documented how, time and again, positive results were published while negative ones were not. Taken together, studies have shown that results of only about half of clinical trials make their way into medical journals.
Problems with data about high-profile drugs have led to scandals over the past decade, like one involving contentions that the number of heart attacks was underreported in research about the painkiller Vioxx. Another involved accusations of misleading data about links between the antidepressant Paxil and the risk of suicide among teenagers.
Peter Doshi is a senior editor at The BMJ and on the News & Views team. Based in Baltimore, he is also an associate professor of pharmaceutical health services research at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. His research focuses on the drug approval process, how the risks and benefits of medical products are assessed and communicated, and improving the credibility and accuracy of evidence synthesis and biomedical publications. Doshi campaigns for greater transparency of clinical trial data and leads the Restoring Invisible and Abandoned Trials (RIAT) initiative, which aims to ensure clinical trial publications are accurate, complete, and data are publicly available. Doshi also has strong interests in journalism as a vehicle for encouraging better practice and improving the research enterprise. Doshi completed a fellowship in comparative effectiveness research at Johns Hopkins and received his PhD in history, anthropology, and science, technology and society from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Peter Doshi — Lessons from Tamiflu experience
Dr. Doshi, after receiving undergraduate and master’s degrees in anthropology and East Asian studies from Brown and Harvard, had shifted focus and was pursuing a doctorate at M.I.T., studying the intersection of medicine and politics.