Press release of the weekBMJ 1995; 310 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.310.6980.672b (Published 11 March 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:672
EDITOR,—I hope that Patricia Macnair's views regarding the press release announcing a “major genetic breakthrough for Noonan syndrome” are not representative of those held at the BMJ. The discovery of a gene, whether for a rare condition like Noonan syndrome or for something much more common like breast cancer, is a major breakthrough for those at risk or affected. It shows that progress is being made and provides hope for the future. Publicity helps to communicate news of the discovery to those who might wish to know about it for personal or professional reasons and also to those who may be able to help raise funds to enable researchers to make further progress towards developing diagnostic tests and perhaps even a cure. The discovery of the structure of a gene is also a permanent addition to knowledge that will have timeless relevance, unlike some medical news afforded much greater prominence in the lay or professional press.
Macnair might consider why it is necessary to present the information in the way that it was presented. If the release had been headed “Minor advance for those with obscure disease—not many interested” I doubt that many people would have been moved to read it. The media make the rules about inclusion. The BMJ should not take the high moral ground if those with something to say play by those rules.