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Gottlieb on NEJM and Avandia

Former FDA deputy commissioner Scott Gottlieb is scathing about NEJM's editorial on its Avandia study (May 24). Even the Lancet, hardly innocent of politicized discourse (e.g., Dec. 2003, Nov. 2006; see also Fred Kaplan, Slate, Oct. 2004 and NY Times editorial (reprinted @ Lott), Nov. 2004), is critical of NEJM's Avandia work. Of note:

Nor is this the first time that NEJM timed release of a deceptive publication to influence political debate. Its now-infamous December 2005 editorial on the Vioxx affair, titled "Expression of Concern," advanced factual distortions that internal NEJM emails later revealed were timed to divert attention away from a damaging deposition that one of the NEJM editors had given in a Vioxx trial and, instead, place blame on Merck.

I have worked on the staff of two leading medical journals, the British Medical Journal and the Journal of the American Medical Association. These institutions fill an invaluable role informing clinical practice and maintaining standards for how rigorous clinical research ought to be conducted. There is a problem when some journals let antipathy for business interests and left-leaning views interfere with the medical decisions that they make, bending standards or stepping outside their mandate, using their prestige and influence in ways that distort medical facts in the aim of influencing political outcomes.

Prestigious biomedical journals are important public health tools, provided they stick to their core business of weighing medical evidence and informing physicians of important practice advances. When they use shortcuts and shoddy analysis to fabricate criticism and doubt of drug regulation, they're no better than some politicians they increasingly comport with.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.