Advancing Voluntary, Informed Consent to Medical Intervention
Curt D. Furberg
Curt D. Furberg, MD, an internationally recognized cardiovascular epidemiologist with expertise in clinical trials, drug safety and public health. Dr. Furberg is a Professor Emeritus of Public Health Sciences at Wake Forest University who has chaired NIH’s Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack (ALLHAT) Steering Committee and has been a vocal advocate for active monitoring for serious adverse drug side effects that pose serious danger for patients. In 1995, he and colleagues published an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) warning that drugs used to control high blood pressure increased the risk of heart failure rather than preventing it. He was the principal investigator of the Antihypertensive and Lipid Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack, the largest federally funded trial that confirmed a dramatic increase in heart failure.
Dr. Furberg, who was a member of Food and Drug Administration advisory panel, was barred from a decisive meeting about the safety of Bextra and other arthritis drugs because his analysis of the data — in preparation for the meeting — suggested that the entire class of medications known as the COX-2 inhibitors may be unsafe. His due diligence riled Pfizer (Bextra manufacturer) and FDA administrators who barred him from the advisory panel meeting. The reason given for rescinding his invitation to participate in the panel’s key meeting (in 2004) was because of an “intellectual conflict of interest.”
This suggests that FDA does not tolerate advisory panelists who take the trouble independently analyze the safety data prior to evaluating company’s biased presentations. Since then Dr. Furberg serves as senior medical advisor to QuarterWatch. He receives no compensation for assessing the scientific evidence and defining safety issues from FDA’s MedWatch reports. Dr. Furberg has served as an Expert witness in about 15–16 litigations over the past 15 years involving about 10 drug companies. In most cases he worked in support of patients who suffered serious adverse drug effects.