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JAMA refuses to exclude authors who hide financial ties to drug companies

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 by: NewsTarget
Tags: JAMA, medical journals, scientific integrity

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(NewsTarget) The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) said today that it would not ban authors who fail to disclose financial ties to drug companies, because such an action might bring antitrust lawsuits.

Catherine DeAngelis, editor-in-chief of JAMA, says after speaking with lawyers, she and other medical journal editors have decided not to risk being sued by pharmaceutical companies for antitrust by banning authors with financial conflicts of interest.

DeAngelis rejected calls for JAMA to outright ban authors who have not revealed financial links to drug makers, saying that such an action "would only encourage that author to send his or her articles to another journal; it cleans our house by messing others."

Though DeAngelis claims antitrust issues would arise if all medical journals banned authors who refuse disclosure, former Federal Trade Commission lawyer and current Penn State law professor Stephen Ross says nothing would prevent JAMA and other journals from sharing the names of authors who have refused disclosure. "They could even jointly observe that particular journals published a certain researcher," Ross says.

"This is classic behavior characteristic of the incestuous relationship between medical journals and drug companies," said Mike Adams, a frequent critic of pharmaceutical industry practices. "With this announcement, the American Medical Association is openly declaring its unwillingness to meet even the most basic standards of journalistic integrity."

JAMA recently corrected two previously published studies to include information on the researchers' or authors' formerly undisclosed financial ties. In a study linking migraines with heart disease, JAMA issued a correction saying that all of the study's six authors had dies to drug companies that make migraine or heart disease drugs. In a correction of a February study on depression, JAMA informed readers that more than half the study's authors had been paid as speakers or consultants for makers of antidepressants.

Critics of JAMA's refusal to ban such authors say that medical journals have failed to abide by fundamental standards of integrity and protect the health of Americans whose lives are affected by allowing such authors to be published. Moreover, simply giving up and allowing such authors to be published -- instead of trying to remedy a serious problem -- indicates how corrupt U.S. medical journals have become.

"It is difficult to find a clearer example of the collusion between Big Pharma and JAMA than this astonishing announcement which says, essentially, 'We refuse to operate with scientific integrity,'" Adams added. "Today, JAMA has designated itself the official propaganda mouthpiece of Big Pharma, something that independent observers have known for years."


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