Friday, December 19, 2003
If indeed Barnett's case is true (as it seems to be in at least a few instances) this is a really disturbing development. Obviously these sorts of biased articles could have very real (and adverse) effects on patient care. Understanding the degree to which this practice is widespread is much more difficult. Barnett suggests that at least hundreds of articles have been so tainted. However he doesn't offer any source for this number, or, to be fair, any reason to think its not far more or less. While the number of such tainted papers has to be of critical concern to any potential medical patient (is the entire profession bought and paid for or just some small parts?), from a professional point of view even one such case makes clear the need to have strong institutional sanctions for such behviour: journals should refuse to publish papers from authors so tainted and professional bodies should revoke their licenses to practice medicine.