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:

Email Newsletters

More in News

Gilead reaps huge HCV sales, payer fury

Gilead reaps huge HCV sales, payer fury

Sovaldi's debut has been marked by plenty of criticism from payers and lawmakers, but the hep. C drug's launch, now confirmed to be the fastest of all time, has also ...

Bayer drug gets orphan label

Bayer drug gets orphan label

The FDA designation is for an experimental, inhaled form of ciprofloxacin intended to treat a rare lung condition.

Lilly's cancer drug ramu granted gastric indication

Lilly's cancer drug ramu granted gastric indication

Ramucirumab received FDA approval today in advanced gastric cancer, a nod that could translate into $600 million in peak sales.