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Essay

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Medical Journals Are an Extension of the Marketing Arm of Pharmaceutical Companies

  • Richard Smith
  • Published: May 17, 2005
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0020138

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Bold suggestion by Smith

Posted by plosmedicine on 30 Mar 2009 at 23:42 GMT

Author: David Cohen
Position: Professor
Institution: Florida International Unversity, Miami, USA
E-mail: david.cohen@fiu.edu
Submitted Date: May 23, 2005
Published Date: May 23, 2005
This comment was originally posted as a “Reader Response” on the publication date indicated above. All Reader Responses are now available as comments.

Richard Smith's key suggestion is that medical journals "should stop publishing trials" and concentrate on "critically evaluating them." This bold and radical suggestion deserves wide debate. It's obvious that many medical journals are losing relevance as vehicles for scientific information. But it's unclear what will save them. Even as they strive to better enforce their conflicts of interest disclosure rules, drug companies will strive to find or create other publication outlets that can communicate to physicians precisely what advertisers wish to communicate. In sum, an unanticipated effect of a radical purge of clinical trial reports from medical journals might be an even larger proliferation of frank advertising outlets and messages that might more effectively catch doctors' attentions.

Competing interests declared: I'm former editor of Ethical Human Sciences and Services, which published several articles critical of the drug industry, and have authored articles critical of drug industry sponsorship and influence on clinical psychopharmacology trials.