The Journal of the American Medical Association is making its conflict of interest policy more stringent as a result of the failure of many scientists to disclose financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.
The announcement followed the news that the authors of a recent article about adverse health effects on pregnant women who stop taking a prescribed antidepressant had not disclosed drug company ties.
A letter to the editor revealed that most of the article's 13 authors had been paid by companies that manufacture antidepressants, and that the lead author had received funding from at least eight such companies. This is not the first time financial conflict of interest has been an issue for articles in JAMA.
JAMA now dictates that authors must disclose any financial or other relationship with any company, even if a specific medication is not mentioned in the article.
Recent studies have found that doctors who participated in drug-company-sponsored drug trials were more likely to prescribe that company's drugs, and that clinical trials funded by drug companies were more likely to report positive findings.
It's about time. The growing number of research scandals in the news may finally be leading to some positive changes. But as long as researchers get much of their funding from the evil empire, better known as the multi-national drug companies, corruption and biased "science" will still be pervasive.
The study that was the flashpoint for these much-needed changes to JAMA's policies challenged the widely-held theory that hormonal changes during pregnancy protect expectant mothers against depression.
In fact, the authors thought that their findings might encourage some women to remain on their depression medication throughout their pregnancies -- which would be good news for the drugmakers who paid most of the authors' consulting or lecturing fees.
The lead author is a longtime consultant to three antidepressant makers, a paid speaker for seven of them, and has his research work funded by four drugmakers. None of his financial ties were reported in the study. In fact, all told, the authors failed to disclose more than 60 different financial relationships with drug companies.
This is especially reprehensible since the very premise of their study is fatally flawed. That was certainly my experience in primary care. It was very obvious that, for most of my pregnant patients, their depression resolved once they were into the hormonal influences of their pregnancy.
It is completely reprehensible that this type of conflicted research could be published; the unnecessary medicine it supports has clearly been linked to the development of birth defects.
This is a powerful indicator as to how low drug companies have fallen. These authors LIED to JAMA, as there are specific questions they needed to answer regarding these conflicts of interests. Then, they promoted a treatment that can harm innocent unborn children.
This is especially tragic as there are so many effective natural treatments that are very effective for treating depression, including: