Journal "pharmascolds" skew policy, says study

Share this article:
Medical journal coverage of the question of physician-industry relationships is “unbalanced” and may be skewing public policy towards ever-more restrictive safeguards against industry influence.

That's the finding of a trio of researchers – one of them Harvard's Tom Stossel, MD, the industry-friendly founder of the Association of Clinical Researchers and Educators – in a study published in Nature Biotechnology. They looked at 108 journal articles, including original research, reviews, editorials and other commentaries, published over the past quarter-century and dealing with the topic of industry-physician relationships.

“Publications on this topic began to appear in the 1980s and peaked around 2000,” write the study's authors, who plotted the topic's trajectory through keyword searches on terms like “conflict of interest,” “CME” and “physician-industry relationships.” Earlier papers, they found, mainly concerned research relationships, while later papers explored a variety of possible avenues of influence including marketing to physicians, commercial support of CME and “ghost writing” of journal articles.

Nearly all of the articles they looked at (89%) “unambiguously emphasized risks” of industry-physician contact. Very few considered possible benefits of industry-physician interaction, and most speculated industry-physician contact hurt patient care outcomes – absent supporting evidence.

“In our view, the dominance of risk-emphasizing papers and the low prevalence of opposing viewpoints in those papers have contributed to the evolution of policies concerning academia-industry relationships,” wrote the authors, arguing that the brickbats from medical journals have fed a “conformity cascade” among ill-informed lawmakers. They called for journal editors to bring in “a broader and more inclusive diversity of voices when considering articles on academic-industry relationships.”   
Share this article:
You must be a registered member of MMM to post a comment.

Email Newsletters

MM&M EBOOK: PATIENT ACCESS

Patient access to pharmaceuticals is a tale of two worlds—affordability has improved for the majority, while the minority is hampered by cost, distribution and red tape. To provide marketers with a well-rounded perspective, MM&M presents this e-book chock full of key insights. Click here to access it.

More in Channel

Five things for pharma marketers to know: Monday, September 15

Five things for pharma marketers to know: ...

Pharma has sought 76 meetings with FDA over biosimilars; Gilead licenses Sovaldi to India generic drugmakers; Pfizer and Ranbaxy Lipitor lawsuit dismissed.

Liraglutide, aiming for new indication, gets new name

Liraglutide, aiming for new indication, gets new name

Why Novo Nordisk is choosing not to leverage Victoza's brand equity as it seeks a weight-loss indication for liraglutide.

Five things for pharma marketers to know: Friday, September 12

Five things for pharma marketers to know: Friday, ...

An FDA panel voted in favor of liraglutide for weight loss; Allergan investors backing an attempted takeover of the firm crossed a critical threshold; and 100 million health wearables are ...