"We always get the 'Well, I didn't know,' when they probably did know," she says. "We are going to adhere to a standard of
honesty and disclosure to make sure the readers know if there are any potential financial conflicts of interest."
It is in industry's interest to promote positive data and downplay the negative.The issue is that the general public wants
simple answers and industry wants to provide them—even though the simple answer may not be appropriate. –Janice Radak, editor-in-chief
Do editors think there need to be additional measures to ensure transparency? Lundberg says that, although they're committed
to them, current measures are already onerous.
Janice Radak, editor-in-chief of Geriatrics, offers: "As an editor I don't want to have to examine some author's IRS statements, but neither do I appreciate hearing,
'Oh, maybe should I disclose...?' I think a big part of the evolution of disclosure is making the researchers more aware of
their ethical responsibilities."
Authors are used to conflict of interest disclosure statements. Anybody who's published in an academic journal has done it
for years. –Jordana Bieze Foster, editor of Applied Neurology.
Judy Orvos, editor of Contemporary Ob/Gyn, says another way conflict of interest disclosures may evolve is to "require not just authors, but also the writers and editors
with whom they collaborate, to disclose any industry relationships relative to a manuscript's content."
At the same time, journals need to ensure these changes actually increase transparency. "Not all journals provide the ability
to acknowledge contributors who may not rate as a full author, but whose contributions materially impacted the research,"
says Tim Bacon, president and CEO of PeerView, a publication strategy consultancy.
One of the "rules" of journal editors is to keep various players in healthcare on their toes. At the same time, transparency
is an area where we can work more collaboratively. It allows pharmaceutical companies to behave in a way that allows them
to be trusted, and for that trust to be built on a background of transparency. –Fiona Godlee, editor of the British Medical
Clinical Trial Registries
In 1978, a group of journal editors met in Vancouver to set guidelines for formatting manuscripts. They suggested authors
number pages starting with the title page, leave generous margins, and double-space. But they also set formats for how to
describe participants, state conflicts of interest, and discuss results.
Over the years, the so-called "Vancouver group" evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE).
And it is that organization that put forward a new policy that is changing the way companies handle how they communicate research
with professionals: As of July 1, 2005, all clinical trials research must be registered if sponsors want to ever publish their
results in a member journal.
One problem is ambiguity over what type of trial should be registered. We don't know enough about this middle ground of trials
that fall between those clearly not affecting practice and those that have a primary purpose to affect practice. There's no
doubt about Phase III. It's the Phase II and small randomized Phase I trials that are difficult to decide about. So we're
going to get our feet wet and formulate what amounts to case law to guide us so each journal will treat articles consistently.–Harold
C. Sox, MD, MACP, editor of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The idea for clinical trial registries gained steam in June 2004, when New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer sued
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for withholding negative trial data on the use of Paxil (paroxetine) in children. Soon, journal editors
also were demanding a new way to put drug information into context.