A leading medical editor has warned that journals are rightly seen as the marketing arm of the pharmaceutical industry and they must go further to be open about where their money comes from.
Fiona Godlee, editor in chief of the BMJ group, told a select committee of the UK Parliament that “We have to acknowledge that the publishing industry has a number of different revenue streams, one of which is the pharmaceutical industry.”
Speaking before a committee hearing into peer review, Godlee was asked about the practice of many publishers producing sponsored publications – where companies can pay for special publications covering certain diseases or topics.
Such publications could be confusing to readers and it was not always clear what industry involvement was, she noted. And even traditional fully peer-reviewed medical journals should not be viewed as pure.
“It has been said that journals are the marking arm of the pharma industry and that is not untrue; to a large extent that is true,” Godlee told the Science and Technology Select Committee.
Godlee called for more efforts towards transparency in medical publishing, especially around centralised systems for declaring conflicts of interest and making explicitly clear when industry funding has been involved.