Journal Watch improving access to authors’ financial ties

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A Web site that summarizes medical journal articles for doctors is reducing the number of clicks it takes to find authors’ financial ties, following reader criticism of its disclosure policy.

Journal Watch will allow readers to view physician-editor’s financial ties to pharmaceutical firms or other sources of support by clicking on the author’s name. The Massachusetts Medical Society, publisher of the New England Journal of Medicine and owner of Journal Watch, is set to adopt the policy this month, reports The Wall Street Journal. Currently, readers must navigate to a section’s main page and click through two other pages to locate a disclosure.

The change follows a case in which Journal Watch took criticism for not disclosing one of it authors’ ties to the drug industry. The author, Claudio Soares, a psychiatrist who is listed as an associate editor of the site, wrote in an April 26 article that data support antidepressant use by pregnant women, despite cautions from regulators and medical societies, according to the WSJ report. His article prompted a New England perinatologist to write in chiding the article for minimizing risks and reprimanding Journal Watch for not noting Soares’ consulting relationships, which include ties with marketers of antidepressants from Forest, Sepracor, GlaxoSmithKline and Wyeth.

A Journal Watch section editor responded to the perinatologist that Soares' disclosure was available at the time.

Last year, amid criticism, the Journal of the American Medical Association tightened its author disclosure policy after authors of a depression study appearing in its pages failed to reveal ties to makers of antidepressants. The journal had reported similar omissions from authors of a study linking certain arthritis drugs to cancer.

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