Intended for healthcare professionals


Revisiting the commercial-academic interface in medical journals

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 02 June 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2957
  1. Elizabeth Loder, acting head of research,
  2. Catherine Brizzell, head of education,
  3. Fiona Godlee, editor in chief
  1. 1The BMJ, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to: E Loder eloder{at}

The New England Journal of Medicine goes on an ill advised journey

Public trust in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry is low.1 Many practising physicians share that mistrust and are inclined to discount the results of otherwise sound studies that are industry funded.2 3 There are good historical reasons to be sceptical. But has suspicion degenerated, as some have charged, into “mindless demonisation?”4 The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) seems to think so. It has published a series of commentaries and an editorial suggesting there have been serious negative consequences of strict, “oversimplified” conflict of interest and disclosure policies, including the development of a “hostile climate” and “loss of trust.”5 6 7 8 Editor in chief, Jeffrey Drazen, says the “divide” between academic researchers and industry is not in the best interests of the public because “true improvement can come only through collaboration.”

A close reading of Drazen’s editorial suggests he is having second thoughts about policies put in place by many journals—including The BMJ—that make it “harder and harder for people who have received industry payments or items of financial value to write editorials or review articles . . . …

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