Former NEJM Editors Attack Journal’s “Flawed” and “Rambling” Conflict-of-interest Articles


In the British Medical Journal, three former editors of the New England Journal of Medicine criticize the NEJM for its recent publication of a series of articles downplaying conflicts of interest in medicine and psychiatry. The former editors describe the articles as a “seriously flawed and inflammatory attack on conflict of interest policies and regulations.”

“The NEJM has now sought to reinterpret and downplay the importance of conflicts of interest in medicine by publishing articles that show little understanding of the meaning of the term,” the former editors write in the BMJ. “Judges are expected to recuse themselves from hearing a case in which there are concerns that they could benefit financially from the outcome. Journalists are expected not to write stories on topics in which they have a financial conflict of interest. The problem, obviously, is that their objectivity might be compromised, either consciously or unconsciously, and there would be no easy way to know whether it had been. Yet Rosenbaum and Drazen seem to think it is insulting to physicians and medical researchers to suggest that their judgment can be affected in the same way.”

The story has been previously reported on by Mad in America.

Steinbrook, Robert, Jerome P. Kassirer, and Marcia Angell. “Justifying Conflicts of Interest in Medical Journals: A Very Bad Idea.” BMJ 350 (June 2, 2015): h2942. doi:10.1136/bmj.h2942. (Full text)