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Why a journal decided to stop taking pharma ads

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The journal, Emergency Medicine Australasia, announced it will no longer accept advertising from drug companies.

The full editorial making the announcement is available online.


“Among the issues discussed were that the industry, one of the most profitable in the world, distorts research findings, such that drug company sponsored research is approximately four times as likely to be favourable to its product than independently funded research; authors of company-sponsored research are far more likely to recommend a company’s drug than independent researchers, and researchers with industry connections are more likely to publish data favourable to a company’s product than those without; selective reporting of results by industry is likely to inflate our views of the efficacy of company products; the drug industry has been shown to engage in dubious and unethical publishing practices, including guest and ghost authorship, and to apply pressure to academics to withhold negative findings; and the industry spends enormous amounts of money on advertising, which has been shown to change the prescribing practices of doctors, increasing sales in a dose-related manner to the volume of advertising.

Only a few journals, such as PLoS Medicine, have actively taken a stand against drug advertising by pharmaceutical companies. This is a difficult decision as drug company advertising makes good money not only for the drug companies, but also for the journal, and any sponsoring physician organization that publishes the journal, that might make up 10% or more of their total annual revenue.

Doctors need to stop being used as agents of the drug industry in the complex financial arrangement between drug companies and consumers. It is time to show leadership and make a stand, and medical journals have a critical role to play in this. At EMA we have therefore drawn a line in the sand, and have stopped all drug advertising forthwith. We invite other journals to show their support and follow suit, by declaring their hand and doing the same.”

(Hat tip to Melissa Sweet of the Croakey blog.)

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