Intended for healthcare professionals

Editorials

Medical journals and industry ties

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g7197 (Published 28 November 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g7197
  1. Mabel Chew, practice editor,
  2. Catherine Brizzell, head of education,
  3. Kamran Abbasi, international editor,
  4. Fiona Godlee, editor in chief
  1. 1The BMJ, London WC1H 9JR, UK

Zero tolerance on education articles with financial links to industry

The BMJ was one of the first medical journals to seek declarations of competing interests from authors. Our focus is on financial competing interests as we believe these to be the most identifiable. We do, however, understand that competing interests come in many forms and we also routinely ask authors to declare relevant non-financial competing interests. The governing principle has been that transparency is a panacea.1 We placed faith in this principle, but mounting experience and evidence tell us that we were only half right.2 Transparency remains essential, but it isn’t sufficient to eliminate bias or perception of bias.

We believe this risk of bias is particularly important for clinical educational articles that are designed to guide patient care, when authors’ biases may be less visible to general medical readers. For some years we have sought to minimise as well as declare competing interests for these articles. Recently we introduced more active management of competing interests, requiring authors to complete a more detailed declaration and excluding authors with close ties. Now we have decided to go a step further, as heralded three years ago.3 From next year our clinical education articles will be authored by experts without financial ties to industry (box). By industry we mean companies producing drugs, devices, or tests; medical education companies; or other companies with an interest in the topic of the article. We are phasing in this policy …

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