Medical Journal Apologizes For Violating Own Standards
The New England Journal of Medicine, one of the world's top-ranked scientific publications and a leading critic of doctors' financial ties to industry, apologized on Feb 23, 2000, to its readers for violating its own financial conflict-of-interest policy 19 times over the last three years in choosing experts to review drug therapies.
The journal said it had failed to disqualify the authors of the 19 reviews even though the authors had told them about their financial ties to drug companies that marketed therapies described in the articles.
''This is the most serious mistake for which we have had to apologize,'' Dr. Marcia Angell, the editor in chief of the journal that began publishing in 1812, said in an interview.
The journal's policy would have required it to select authors who had no ties to the companies making the drugs discussed in the articles. The policy is intended to avoid bias in reporting information about drugs that doctors prescribe.
The reviews covered therapies for such ailments as hair loss, breast cancer, AIDS, diabetes, postmenopausal osteoporosis, alcoholism, asthma, glaucoma, meningitis, attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder, and sickle cell anemia.
Dr Angell resigned from the editorship of the NEJM in June 2000, commenting that her one year of being "Editor and Chief" was an interesting year. She is in residence at Harvard and also in 2004, she wrote a book entitled "THE TRUTH ABOUT THE DRUG COMPANIES: HOW THEY DECEIVE US AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT"
In Sept 2001, the NEJM announced new standards for those studies they published - they wrote: