Members of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors are meeting in London this month.
High on the agenda will be efforts to improve the management of conflicts of interest, according to the editor of the Medical Journal of Australia, Dr Martin Van Der Weyden. He told a workshop on such issues, convened in Canberra yesterday by the NHMRC, that “there is a change in the mood” internationally, and a new determination to address such matters more effectively.
No wonder. The recent revelations about “pseudo medical journals”, as Van Der Weyden called them, are not only damaging for Merck and Elsevier (and there’s an interesting analysis here contrasting each company’s management of their corporate crises). They are putting the spotlight more broadly on the medical publishing industry.
Dr Richard Horton, publisher and editor of The Lancet (which is owned by Elsevier) will no doubt be particularly keen to see that his house is put in order.
If publishers can’t manage conflict of interest issues effectively, how can they demand high standards of their contributors?