[caption id="" align="alignleft” width="258" caption="We Love Pharma, courtesy of CDM Worldwide”][/caption]
UPDATE FROM THE EDITORS: The Chronicle received the letter to the editor pasted in below. For further context, readers may wish to consult a later post by Carl Elliott here. They may also wish to see the detailed back and forth between Elliott and Glenn McGee at Reporting on Health. (That back and forth is also linked at the end of Elliott’s 3/1 post.)
To The Editors of The Chronicle of Higher Education:
The editors of The American Journal of Bioethics (AJOB) request a correction to the blog post “Stand Strong, GlaxoSmithKline!” written by Carl Elliott. Mr. Elliott suggests in your blog that The American Journal of Bioethics relocated to a stem cell clinic in Texas. Mr. Eliott says: “just as they’re whining about an American editor’s decision to re-locate a leading bioethics journal to the Texas headquarters of a stem cell tourism clinic.” Although Mr. Elliott never names The American Journal of Bioethics by name, it is clear due to the weblink he uses that he is referring to AJOB. This links to a paper in Slate written by Mr. Elliott that has since been retracted by its editors. The claim that you published is one of the false statements. The American Journal of Bioethics has never had its offices located at a clinic, nor at a stem cell company. It is a matter of public record that the offices of the journal are (and have been) located at 3030 Post Oak Blvd #805, in Houston, Texas, not at a clinic in Sugar Land, Texas, and not at the office of CellTex.
Slate’s retraction of Mr. Elliott’s article states, “On Feb. 17, 2012, Slate published an article titled “The Celltex Affair: An Ethics Scandal Strikes the World of Bioethics.” Because of shortcomings in the editorial process, the article did not meet Slate’s standards for verification and fairness and should not have been published. We withdraw the article and apologize to Dr. Glenn McGee.
We request that the false statement regarding The American Journal of Bioethics quoted above which was published on your website be removed due to its inaccuracy.
We look forward to your reply.
Summer Johnson McGee, PhD and David Magnus, PhD
David Magnus, PhD
Director, Center for Biomedical Ethics
Thomas A. Raffin Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Ethics and Professor of Pediatrics
1215 Welch Road, Module A
Summer Johnson McGee, PhD | Co-Editor in Chief, The American Journal of Bioethics
Graduate Faculty, Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy, Loyola University
(888) 360-AJOB | email@example.com
3030 Post Oak Blvd. #805, Houston TX 77056
CARL ELLIOTT’S ORIGINAL POST: The pharmaceutical industry gets a bad rap. To listen to the critics you’d think pharmaceutical companies are in the same sleazy category as oil, finance and tobacco companies. But pharmaceutical companies invent life-saving medications, not to mention countless other psychoactive products that many of us enjoy on a recreational basis. Pharmaceutical companies get blamed for fraud, kickbacks, and research deaths, but they never get the credit for oxycontin.
That is why I was thrilled to see that GlaxoSmithKline is sponsoring the prize for the British Medical Journal‘s annual Research Paper of the Year. Sure, the pharma-bashers will whine like infants at the BMJ’s decision to brand a medical research prize with the name of multinational drug company, just as they’re whining about an American editor’s decision to re-locate a leading bioethics journal to the Texas headquarters of a stem cell tourism clinic. These people just don’t get it. This is not about propaganda or corruption. It is about developing innovative medications for diseases that we didn’t even know existed.
In that spirit, my nomination for the GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Research Paper of the Year goes to a ground-breaking article about GSK’s very own antidepressant, Paxil, which was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. The title of the article is “Efficacy of Paroxetine in the Treatment of Adolescent Major Depression,” but seasoned pharma-watchers know it better as Study 329. The data behind Study 329 showed that Paxil didn’t actually work in adolescents – that, in fact, it was no better than a sugar pill. However, as any marketer understands, bad data cannot be allowed to interfere with a good paper. By the time Study 329 appeared in print, GSK had used the magic of biostatistics to transform the raw data into a gleaming advertisement for Paxil. As a result, when FDA eventually decided that Paxil had a few minor side-effects, such as suicide, Study 329 had already done its work: getting a GSK product into the hands of troubled teenagers. And wait, here’s the beauty part: although the published version of Study 329 was “authored” by leading academic psychiatrists, it was actually written by a GSK ghostwriter.
Of course, the pharma-bashers have been complaining about Study 329 for years. Some of them even want the journal to retract it. The lead “author” who signed the paper, Martin Keller of Brown University, has been beaten up by the Senate Finance Committee, harassed by the New York attorney general, and vilified in the press, all because he put his name on a ghosted article and forgot to report half a million dollars in pharmaceutical income. To which I say: stand strong, GSK. Ignore the naysayers and the nitpickers. It’s about time you gave these good people some public recognition. Yes, it’s true that Study 329 is eleven years old, but you’re paying the BMJ over $47,000 to sponsor this prize. Surely they can bend the rules, just this once.