Citation: Sackett D (2005) Might Banning Trial Publication Do More Harm Than Good? PLoS Med 2(7): e220. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0020220
Published: July 26, 2005
Copyright: © 2005 David Sackett. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Competing interests: DS has been wined, dined, supported, transported, and paid to speak by countless pharmaceutical firms for over 40 years, beginning with two research fellowships and interest-free loans that allowed him to finish medical school. Dozens of his randomized trials have been supported in part (but never in whole) by pharmaceutical firms, who never received or analysed primary data and never had veto power over any reports, presentations, or publications of the results. He has twice worked as a paid consultant to advise pharmaceutical firms on whether their products caused lethal side effects; on both occasions he told them yes. He has testified as an unpaid expert witness for a patient with stroke who successfully sued a manufacturer of oral contraceptives, and as a paid expert in preparing a class-action suit against a manufacturer of prosthetic heart valves.
Smithereens are better than no Smith at all. It was grand to see Richard Smith in full flight again , a raptor this time, relegating the randomized controlled trials he previously championed in the BMJ to the ether, to be replaced by printed “commentaries.” In doing so, he laid three problematic eggs. First, he shoved systematic reviews and meta-analyses, surely the least biased summaries of efficacy, out of the nest before he took off. Second, the canaries who write commentaries often live in gilded cages provided by the drug industry and printing their pronouncements would make matters worse. Finally, the fledglings who conduct nondrug health-care trials, especially in low- and middle-income countries, shouldn't have their careers stunted by not being able to publish their work in print journals.