Tag Archives: nejm

Journals pay for cracking down on industry funding

Paul Basken reports in the Chronicle of Higher Education that major medical journals, whose financial viability often depends heavily upon industry support, are faced with an “inherent conflict of interest” when it comes to filtering possible industry bias from their articles.

Basken’s report relies on an analysis of industry-funded studies presented at the International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication in Vancouver. Once the Journal of the American Medical Association introduced an independent verification requirement for industry-funded studies in 2005, Basken reported, it “saw the percentage of industry-supported studies in its pages drop 21 percent, from more than 60 percent of its published trials to 47 percent. Lancet, however, saw a growth of 17 percent, and The New England Journal of Medicine had an increase of 11 percent, the group reported.”

Ghostwriting: Journals’ dirty, not-so-little secret

The New York Times‘ Duff Wilson and Natasha Singer reported the results of a Journal of the American Medical Association study showing that, in an anonymous survey of contributors to six major medical journals, 7.8 percent “acknowledged contributions to their articles by people whose work should have qualified them to be named as authors on the papers but who were not listed.”

Reuters Health’s Brendan Borrell describes the lengths one editor goes to when trying to track down ghostwriters and disclose them in his journal’s articles.

Meanwhile, an editorial in the nonprofit open-access Public Library of Science’s PLoS Medicine calls upon journals to “get serious” in the war against ghostwriting.

FDA drug-monitoring system tricky, promising

Doctors Jerry Avorn and Sebastian Schneeweiss write in the New England Journal of Medicine that the Sentinel Network the FDA is working on to track and make sense of decades of detailed prescription and drug exposure data holds  promise for discovering drug interactions, but that the potential for false positives and misleading results is significant enough to make the program ineffective or dangerous if implemented improperly.


Based on currently available data, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 71,000 Americans under the age of 18, most of them toddlers, visited the hospital for accidental medication overdoses. Common culprits included drugs like Tylenol, Xanax, Percodan and Aspirin. The report’s authors speculate that such poisonings are on the rise because more folks are taking multiple medications at home.
(hat tip to Consumer Reports)

Grassley digs into journal ghostwriting practices

Ben Comer of Medical Marketing & Media reports that Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley sent a letter to eight prominent medical journals, asking them to share their editorial policies regarding the disclosure third parties involved in the creation of journal articles, as well as the penalties they have set for authors who don’t follow those policies. Grassley asked the journals to respond by July 22. Read the senator’s press release here.

NEJM weighs in on Obama’s budget plan

In a rather measured Perspective piece by correspondent John K. Iglehart, the New England Journal of Medicine expresses admiration for President Barack Obama and his commitment to health reform. At the same time, however, the closely read periodical also admits to some doubt that Obama can make an appreciable dent in health care spending, at least to the extent that is needed.

You may recall Obama last week released a $3.6 trillion proposal that challenges Congress to commit a “down payment” of $630 billion over the next decade to finance health care reform. The NEJM reminds us that this adds “substantially” to the $150 billion in health-related revenues from the economic stimulus package he signed into law last month.

“In addressing the vast medical economy, Obama has proposed a grand bargain to the American people and the disparate array of private interests engaged in health care. The administration has assured the populace, providers and its political allies that it is serious about pursuing reform and expanding coverage.

Oh, but those hurdles. As the NEJM notes, this will require reductions, totaling $318 billion over 10 years, in Medicare and Medicaid payments to health plans, drug makers, hospitals, and home health care providers. Where will the rest come from? Raising taxes for Americans in the highest tax brackets. And even then, it will be far from enough.

“Though strident in its language,” the NEJM writes, ” the budget proposal includes only a sliver of the savings required to slow the growth of health care costs to anything close to the rate of growth for non-medical goods and services. Very little in the history of modern Congress suggests that legislators have the stomach to retrench a sector that is such a large part of the economy, particularly one with an impressive record of creating jobs.

“Carrying it off in normal times would take much of the political capital of any president, and this is only one of countless challenges faced by the new administration. On the other hand, Obama pulled off a historic victory last November; perhaps he will prove capable of bending the cost curve and achieving health care reform as well.”


Covering health reform and Obama’s proposed budget