Wednesday 16 October 2013

The BMJ Discards Its Integrity

Via SteveVape, it appears that the British Medical Journal has today decided to ban "any study that is partly or wholly funded by the tobacco industry" .

Their justification is quite hilarious.
Critics may argue—as many did when journals stopped publishing cigarette adverts—that publishing such research does not constitute endorsing its findings and that, as long as funding sources are fully disclosed, readers can consider that information and make up their own minds about the quality of the work. Peer review should prevail, goes this line of thinking: it’s not the editor’s job to make these kinds of judgments.
Yes, because we've always been told how brilliant this peer review thing is, haven't we? Now, though, it is apparently shite - glad you cleared that up for us, BMJ.
However, this view ignores the growing body of evidence that biases and research misconduct are often impossible to detect5, and that the source of funding can influence the outcomes of studies in invisible ways7.
Considering superscripted numbers 5 & 6 refer to research by Mad Stan Glantz - a guy whose bias can be detected by the naked eye by aliens from the farthest galaxies in the universe - this paragraph alone makes one wonder if the BMJ is seeking to reinvent itself as the new Daily Mash.

But their assertion that "the source of funding can influence the outcomes of studies in invisible ways" is funnier than any comic could ever be seeing as they thought it perfectly acceptable to publish, in July, a study celebrating the astounding success of pharmaceutical products ... written by a panel with pharmaceutical funding interests as long as Peter Crouch's arms.
RW is a director of the NCSCT, undertakes research and consultancy for companies that develop and manufacture smoking cessation medications (Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, McNeil, GlaxoSmithKline, Nabi, Novartis, and Sanofi-Aventis), has a share of a patent for a novel nicotine delivery device, and is a trustee of QUIT, a charity that provides stop smoking support;
MW has a share of a patent for a novel nicotine delivery device.
EC previously worked at the English Department of Health as the delivery lead for tobacco control policy, has received travel funding, honorariums, and consultancy payments from manufacturers of smoking cessation products (Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, McNeil, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, and Sanofi-Aventis), and receives royalties from a book on smoking cessation and a book on health promotion.
AMcE is a director of the NCSCT, has received travel funding, honorariums, and consultancy payments from manufacturers of smoking cessation products (Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Novartis), receives payment for providing training to smoking cessation specialists, receives royalties from books on smoking cessation, and has a share in a patent of a nicotine delivery device;
This, of course, is perfectly OK, and will not influence the study outcome in any way whatsoever. Oh no.

Perhaps the BMJ's press release could have been composed more economically. Instead of a 700+ word article, they could have just announced:
"Henceforth, we have abandoned detached editorial objectivity and are now the pharmaceutical industry's official bitch. We are assured that the rubber restraints and ball gag are in the post".
Desperate times for tobacco control and their pharma chums are truly producing some desperate shifting of goal posts, aren't they?


Much to do. said...

The time for reasonable debate with the medical profession is well past it's sell-by-date.Their status in the arena of truth and reason is roughly equivilent to the alchemists of the Middle Ages,their standing in society more akin to the Shamans and Druids of earlier times. Their self elevating bloated self esteem creeps like a tumour across the media which cringes and sulks in reluctant respect,too frightened to point the finger of doubt,too cowardly to illuminate the darkness of deception and half truths.
Again .it must be said ,away with the chattering and gibbering with those who pay no heed,liberty and truth require more than words.
Deliriun Tremens
Leges sine moribus vanae
Take your pick.

Ivan D said...

Essentially, this means that whatever is published in the BMJ will
appear based on its conformity with a political agenda rather than its
merit. To be honest, this is not really news. The BMJ has been an anti-science political rag for some time and I am inclined to distrust anything that has been filtered by its editorial team. This malaise extends beyond tobacco. For those who like to read nauseating ill-informed editorials I recommend looking up Trish Groves on alcohol. I am perfectly OK with Trish and her chums having a point of view on public health, provided that it is accepted that what they produce is not science and is not remotely objective.

james dunworth said...

Also perhaps worth mentioning that 50% of studies published in medical journals by doctors are actually ghost written by pharmaceutical companies.

JonathanBagley said...

Following the resignation of its editor Richard Smith in 2004 (see second para here)

the bmj has never published a paper questioning harm from passive smoking, so this new development won't actually make much difference. The paper referred to, whose publication he approved, was by Enstrom and Kabat, and also got them into a good deal of trouble back in the USA. See

for Enstrom's views. The publication of the paper was a set-back to the Anti Tobacco Industry and helped the realisation by many in the UK that the subsequent smoking ban was not based on scientific evidence. I think it was what first prompted me to take an interest. I think Glanz broke the terms of the press embargo and its authors were viciously attacked before the hour of publication. The ATI tried to show that the study was funded by the tobacco industry and that there were flaws with the data collection.

harleyrider1989 said...

ROFLMAO! It doesn't get any clearer than the POT calling the Kettle Black!

Tom said...

"... are actually ghost written by pharmaceutical companies"
In the same way I suspect Nancy Pelosi's "you gotta pass it first in order to read it second" Obamacare bill just happened to pop out of thin air and be thousands of pages long - all ghost-written, I suspect, by Big Pharma and possibly Big Insurance, Big Doctoring, perhaps a lot of other related industries in on the take somehow.
This with BMJ isn't their first case of political correctness in regard to promoting the SHS Fraud Of The Century pogrom. This is just the latest in a series of many that show them just a political tool for The Anti-Smoking/Anti-Smoker Industry who probably make enough payola go around to keep everyone all humming the same tune, science not required or desired by that sort.

SebT said...

The BMJ are right. Big Tobacco money is laced with Addictium (the element that makes people addicted to things). This soaks through into researchers' skin, and in turn into the research papers they write. Addictium is impossible to detect (as the BMJ correctly notes) - except by its inevitable, immediate effects on the victim, which is that he or she becomes a hopeless, jobless, ADDICT! (Run For The Hills!)

If the BMJ published these kinds of articles, the Addictium would seep in to people who read them: through their eyes; also through their hands (if they're holding a paper copy) or through their computer mouse and then their hands (if they're reading it online), turning them into brainless zombie addicts - pawns in the hands of Evil Big Tobacco.

(Yes, of course Addictium can travel down a USB cable to your mouse - haven't you kept up with the literature?)

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Great reply. It will be interesting to see if pharma has the BMJ's balls in such a vice that they extend their ban to anyone who criticises their policy in the comments. ;)

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Your first sentence nails it - the exclusion of any deviation from the BMJ panel's own highly transparent vested interests. This turns the BMJ from a respected journal into just another mouthpiece for pharma and their front groups. Integrity gone completely.

On the plus side, it's great to see that they have finally admitted that peer review is a crock of shit. ;)

nisakiman said...

Well we all know for a fact that tobacco smoke can travel through the wiring systems of apartment blocks (the experts said so, and they must know), so it makes sense that its offshoots can travel down USB cables. Luckily, however, I use a wireless mouse, so I should be ok. Or can addictium travel through the ether? I hadn't thought of that...