Feature Research Ethics

In clear sight

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b3443 (Published 02 September 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3443

Author's reply: Clarification

Professor MacDonald’s response has recently been brought to my
attention and I feel it is important to set the record straight.

I have been working as a freelance journalist for several years and
am completing my PhD part-time. I am not a full-time student as Prof
MacDonald asserts and certainly did not seek out his assistance. It was in
my capacity as a journalist that I asked questions about the trial and was
invited to attend the meeting, which was also briefly attended by a PR
representative from Beattie Communications who offered supplementary
information for a newspaper piece I was writing. This was published months
before my feature in the BMJ, and Prof MacDonald himself indicated that he
knew I was a journalist by sending a letter of reply to the paper. (1) In
the interest of transparency and the event that I use information gathered
for my thesis, I also declare myself as a doctoral candidate.

With reference to the rest of the reply, I would like to respectfully
add that there should be no ‘confusion concerning the term ‘Sponsor’ which
has a precise meaning in EU legislation and it does not mean ‘funder’’
when using www.ClinicalTrials.gov, as the website provides a clear
definition for ‘Sponsors’. It also clearly defines the term
‘Collaborators’: ‘Other organizations (if any) providing support,
including funding, design, implementation, data analysis and reporting.
The data provider is responsible for confirming all collaborators before
listing them. Provide up to 10 full names of collaborating organizations.'
(2)

This data element should be used to capture information about
funders. It is an optional component, but is available for use by anybody
who registers a trial so the ‘opportunity’ was there to ‘enter this
information’ and this practice should be encouraged.

(1) http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/letters/No-free-lunch.5390199.jp

(2) http://prsinfo.clinicaltrials.gov/definitions.html

Competing interests:
I edit the Pharma Portal on SpinProfiles.

Competing interests: No competing interests

16 April 2010
Marisa de Andrade
Freelance journalist and doctoral candidate.
Glasgow, G1 1XQ