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Medical Experts: Financial ties to Pharmaceutical Industry

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A survey conducted by Tufts University researchers and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2/02) queried medical experts who write guidelines for treating conditions like heart disease, depression and diabetes. The research found that nearly 9 out of 10 experts have financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry, and the ties are almost never disclosed.

Is this just a way for medical researchers to supplement bare-bones salaries?
Or does it place them in the pocket of the pharmaceutical industry?
What are the ethical problems with this?
After all, if we require that researchers sever all financial ties, the field would be even less attractive than it is now. But, researchers may be unwilling or unable to bite the hand that feeds them. What do you think?

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1. A survey conducted by Tufts University researchers and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2/02) queried medical experts who write guidelines for treating conditions like heart disease, depression and diabetes. The research found that nearly 9 out of 10 experts have financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry, and the ties are almost never disclosed. Is this just a way for medical researchers to supplement bare-bones salaries? Or does it place them in the pocket of the pharmaceutical industry?

One must ask why the ties are almost never disclosed; why hide the truth? This is an ethical issue, as it lacks honesty.

Although it might be a way for medical researchers to supplement salaries, however, it could also place them in the pocket of the pharmaceutical industry since they have financial ties. To add to this, the pharmaceutical industry often funds medical research, which will often only publish research that profits them. This would mean that the researchers would be expected to write guidelines for heart ...

Solution Summary

In reference to the research that found nearly 9 out of 10 experts have financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry, and the ties are almost never disclosed, this solution addresses the questions on the ethics of this situation e.g. is this just a way for medical researchers to supplement bare-bones salaries, etc.

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See Also This Related BrainMass Solution

Johnson & Johnson Audit Risk Case

Company is Johnson & Johnson
Audit Risk Case

The audit risk case involves your participation in activities that auditors undertake before an engagement. Each team will be composed of three or four members. A team leader will be selected at random. A leader can resign, if another student can be found to take over leadership for that team (without interference of the professor). The team leader will choose the other two (or three) members of the team. The team members will then be given one corporation from a selected industry for analysis. Teams may exchange their corporations before leaving class.

The audit risk case involves the investigating a potential audit client and preparation of an audit risk memorandum. The audit risk case extends the second standard of field work in the study of the client and its environment in the preliminary stage of the audit to assess areas of potential audit risk. For additional discussion of the reasons for an audit risk assessment see Chapters 5 and 6, with appendices, of your textbook. You should also consult AU Sections 312, 314, 316, 326 and 329.

Your memorandum will be composed of four parts and 3 appendices, beginning with a discussion of your understanding of your corporation's business and industry, including the answers to "who, what, where, when, why, and how" in the business analysis. You will continue with your assessment of accounting practices and the significant accounts with their inherent risks of material misstatement of management's assertions, in your accounting analysis. You will then perform preliminary analytical procedures on your corporation's financial statements and do a comparison to industry standards in your financial analysis. You will conclude with your assessment of potential material misstatement of management's assertions, whether due to the possibility of error or fraud, in view of the understanding you have developed. A single memo is required, which gives your rationale for your conclusions from your insights in the four interrelated areas:

 business analysis
 accounting analysis
 financial analysis, (2010 Financial statement) and
 assertion misstatement risk assessment.

The memo should include separate sections for each of the four interrelated parts, and the three appendices. Analyses from the first three parts-business, accounting, and financial-are required to provide a proper basis for misstatement risk assessment in the fourth section. Thus, the final part on misstatement risk will discuss clearly and succinctly the linkages between your three analyses and your assessment of the potential for material misstatement of management's assertions.

The most important element of your memo will be your supporting rationale for why you think that some management assertions will require more attention in the audit. Your rationale should be derived from your discussions in the business, accounting and financial analyses. Identification of the linkages between your assertion risk assessment and your integrated business understanding should help you develop your rationale.

Business Analysis:

The business analysis section of your memo should present the results of your evaluation of your corporation's industry and how it operates in the competitive environment. You will be answering questions pertaining to the factors on how the company operates within its industry and environment to create value for shareholders. Another way to think of this is: How does the corporation make money in its industry? Examples of factors you may want to consider during this part of your analysis given below [additional factors can be are found in AU Section 314.125 - Appendix A]:

 category of the industry
 nature of competition in the industry
 regulatory environment in the industry
 business model
 business strategy1
 nature of revenue sources - products or services
 method of conducting operations
 geographic areas of customers, production, product distribution
 competence and expertise of top management
 composition of the Board of Directors, and independence of the audit committee
 critical success factors for your corporation in its industry such as: changes in competitive, economic, social and demographic factors that could affect the success of both the industry in which the company operates and the company itself.

To complete this section you need to obtain at least 6 articles from business publications, or recognized business sources of the internet (Wall Street Journal, Barron's, Investors Business Digest, Forbes, Fortune, S&P NetAdvantage, etc.) discussing the industry and the corporation's financial situation. You will also read the management discussion and analysis (MD&A) portion of the annual report, the corporation's latest press releases, and consult the corporation's web site. You will cite all your sources in a bibliography, using APA form, in Appendix A to your memo.

Accounting Analysis

The accounting analysis section of your memo should present the results of your evaluation of your corporation's account areas, accounting principles adopted for use and footnote disclosure. Consider the extent to which the corporation's financial statements, with related footnotes, and management's disclosures in the MD&A, reflect the inherent risk of material misstatement of management's assertions. You should also consider how effectively they communicate that reality to the users of the financial statements. This section also concerns an initial evaluation of management's assertions [AU Sections 326.14 - 326.19], and audit risk and the concept of materiality [AU Sections 312.01 - 312.33].

Examples of factors you may want to consider during this part of your analysis are:
 management's key accounting policies found in the footnote disclosures pertaining to the accounting areas, and the impact of those policies on reported financial results.
 how well reported earnings reflect the company's economic performance, or the quality of earnings in the income statement.
 how well reported values of assets and liabilities reflect its economic resources and obligations on the balance sheet.
 relationship between earnings and cash flow from operations.
 complexity of critical transactions for recording assets and revenues.
 extent to which revenues, expenses, assets and liabilities involve estimates, judgments, and forecasts made by management.
 changes in accounting policies and management's estimates, judgments, and forecasts during the past year.
 whether notes to the financial statements enhance information in the financial statements.
 related party transactions, loans to management.
 extent to which information in the financial statements is consistent with other related disclosures such as MD&A, press releases, and management's letter to shareholders.

To complete this section you need to obtain the latest corporate annual report, including either the financial statements or the 10K from the corporation's web site or SEC (www.sec.gov). You will attach a copy of the financial statements, with footnotes from the annual report or Form 10-K, to your memo as Appendix B.

Financial Analysis: (not needed for this post)

OMIT THIS ONE

Audit Risk Assessments:

To prepare the audit risk section of your planning memorandum you will use the business, the accounting, and the financial analyses and the appendices prepared for each of the three parts given above. In addition you will use the round robin discussion handouts as a tool to identify any potential assertion misstatement risk.

Assertion misstatement risk can be due the importance of a particular account to the fairness of the financial statements (a large percent of current assets, cost of goods sold in the income statement for manufacturing business). Misstatement risk can also be due to error or fraud [AU Sections 316.01 - 316.42]. Misstatement risk can be associated with the one or more of management's assertions as explained in Chapter 2 of your textbook and AU Sections 326.14 - 326.19.

a) existence and occurrence,
b) completeness,
c) rights and obligations,
d) valuation and accuracy,
e) presentation and disclosure

Management assertions are linked to transactions and events for the period; they are linked to account balances at the end of the period; and to the presentation of and disclosures in the financial statements as follows:

1) Transactions: Revenue, Cost of Sales, Operating Expenses, Administrative Expenses, Non-operating Items; Investments and Financing.
2) Balances: Cash, Other Current Assets, Non-Current Assets, Current Liabilities, Non-Current Liabilities, Shareholders' Equity
3) Presentation and Disclosure Issues

In this section, please provide a table to help me organize the risks by each transaction or balance in 1-3 above.

REQUIRED:

Business analysis
Accounting analysis
Table of audit risks by transactions and balances

This give the background and ideas I need to complete the project.

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