Letters

Beyond conflict of interest

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.318.7181.464a (Published 13 February 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:464

What is truth as it relates to albumin?

  1. Oliver Dearlove, Consultant anaesthetist (o.dearlove@man.ac.uk)
  1. Department of Anaesthesia, Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, Manchester M27 1HA
  2. Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Tulane University School of Medicine, 1430 Tulane Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA
  3. Janssen-Cilag, PO Box 79, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire HP14 4HJ
  4. Child Health Monitoring Unit, Institute of Child Health, University College London, London WC1N 1EH
  5. Cochrane Schizophrenia Group, Department of Psychiatry, University of Helsinki, PB 320, FIN-00029 HUCH, Finland
  6. Cochrane Schizophrenia Group, Oxford OX2 7LG
  7. Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, School of Health Sciences, The Medical School, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH
  8. Vancouver Clinic, Vancouver, WA, USA
  9. Laxdale, King's Park House, Laurelhill Business Park, Stirling FK7 9JQ

    EDITOR—The editor of the BMJ is so busy pointing the finger at others' conflicts of interest1 that he ignores one lurking at his own front door. I refer to the continuing controversy over albumin. Editors have to sell their journal, although giving a copy free to every member of the BMA does create a captive market that other editors do not enjoy. The conflict here is the editor's need to feature in the media competing with readers' need to be told the truth. What is truth and what is tendentious opinion masquerading as gospel? Offringa tried to clarify his original message2 when he said that by writing “halted” he meant that the use of albumin should not be halted.3

    Is he to be criticised for over-egging the pudding, or is the editor to be criticised more for producing a mouse and calling it a mountain?

    References

    BMJ's editors should publish their own conflicts of interest regularly

    1. Robert F Garry, Professor (rgarry@tmcpop.tmc.tulane.edu)
    1. Department of Anaesthesia, Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, Manchester M27 1HA
    2. Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Tulane University School of Medicine, 1430 Tulane Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA
    3. Janssen-Cilag, PO Box 79, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire HP14 4HJ
    4. Child Health Monitoring Unit, Institute of Child Health, University College London, London WC1N 1EH
    5. Cochrane Schizophrenia Group, Department of Psychiatry, University of Helsinki, PB 320, FIN-00029 HUCH, Finland
    6. Cochrane Schizophrenia Group, Oxford OX2 7LG
    7. Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, School of Health Sciences, The Medical School, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH
    8. Vancouver Clinic, Vancouver, WA, USA
    9. Laxdale, King's Park House, Laurelhill Business Park, Stirling FK7 9JQ

      EDITOR—The BMJ has now joined several prominent medical journals that have clarified or revised their conflict of interest policies.1 I hope that it fares better than its counterparts in evenhandedly enforcing its revised policy.

      In one well publicised case, a single day's consulting to a panel of the Food and Drugs Administration was considered such a profound violation that the New England Journal of Medicine changed its rules about conflict of interest.2 In the case of an editorial in that jounal which flatly dismissed the carcinogenic potential of environmental oestrogens, however, long term funding from the chemical industry to the author of the editorial went undisclosed, and when disclosed was addressed by the editor's comment that “the line has to be drawn somewhere.”3 The executive editor of the New England Journal of Medicinehas also written an editorial in the Wall Street Journalsuggesting that receiving grants from the …

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