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BMJ 2011; 342 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d1335 (Published 01 March 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d1335

Re:In response to Fiona Godlee

Fiona Godlee acknowledges that AHRP was right to criticize the BMJ
and its editor-in-chief for failing to disclose to its readership, the BMJ
financial ties to Merck--manufacturer of 13 vaccines. She also
acknowledges income from GSK--manufacturer of several vaccines as well.

She reproduced our critical comments originally posted at:
http://www.ahrp.org/cms/content/view/766/9/ stating:

"Although Vera's claims may seem far fetched on this occasion, she is
right that we should have declared the BMJ Group's income from Merck as a
competing interest to the editorial (and the two editor's choice articles)
that accompanied Brian Deer's series on the Secrets of the MMR scare.[2]
[3] [4] We should also, as you say, have declared the group's income from
GSK as a competing interest in relation to these articles. We will publish
clarifications."

However, her statement, "We didn't declare these competing interests
because it didn't occur to us to do so " is startling. How seriously are
we to take her strongly articulated stance against researchers who fail to
disclose their financial conflicts of interest--if she doesn't recognize
her journal's blatant conflict of interest?

Either she is being disingenuous or downright cynical about the BMJs
declared stand against financial conflicts of interest that are
undermining the integrity of medical research reports, and its own
clandestine partnerships with industry.

Let's be clear: financial conflicts of interest ALWAYS influence the
position one defends-- human nature does not distinguish between
politicians whose campaign chests are filled by vested interests,
government officials, or academics who have grown dependent on financial
support from special interests. Each delivers the service for which he/she
is paid.

Vera Hassner Sharav
President, Alliance for Human Research Protection

Competing interests: No competing interests

16 March 2011
Vera H Sharav
Independent Information Broadcaster
Alliance for Human Research Protection (AHRP)