Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Tackling conflicts of interests

What the New England Journal of Medicine did

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 06 September 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d5665
  1. Jerome P Kassirer, distinguished professor1
  1. 1Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02110, USA
  1. jpkassirer{at}

During the decade of the 1990s, when I was editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, we rejected anyone who had a conflict of interest from writing an editorial or review article.1 Sometimes it required going down the list until we found someone who didn’t have a conflict, but we never had to compromise and accept someone without sufficient expertise to do a good job. I also think it’s often a good idea to get someone who isn’t too close to the action: it often avoids “group think” and provides a fresh perspective. But to maintain our 1990s policy takes more work because you can’t just accept the first person who pops into your mind. I was disappointed when the journal changed the policy, and said so publicly.


Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d5665


  • Competing interests: JPK was a former editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine.


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