TORONTO - A Toronto doctor who defied a drug company by warning patients of potential dangers of a drug she was studying is being recognized for her courage.
Dr. Nancy Olivieri is the 2009 recipient of the "scientific freedom and responsibility award" from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the same organization that publishes the prestigious journal Science.
"She is being recognized for standing up for the principle that patient safety and the integrity of research comes before any loyalties to commercial or institutional interests," spokeswoman Deborah Runkle said from San Diego, where the award is being presented during the AAAS's annual meeting.
In the mid-1990s, Olivieri discovered side-effects while conducting a clinical trial on deferiprone, a pill being tested as a potential treatment for the rare blood disorder thalassemia.
Olivieri, a physician and researcher at the Hospital for Sick Children at the time, expressed her concerns in a medical journal, despite having signed an agreement with drugmaker Apotex to keep her research confidential.
The controversy grabbed headlines around the world and sparked debate over academic freedom and ethical dilemmas faced by university researchers who do clinical trials funded by drug companies.