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Conflicted Medical Journals and the Failure of Trust

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Journals are failing in their obligation to ensure that research is fairly represented to their readers, and must act decisively to retract fraudulent publications. Recent case reports have exposed how marketing objectives usurped scientific testing and compromised the credibility of academic medicine. But scant attention has been given to the role that journals play in this process, especially when evidence of research fraud fails to elicit corrective measures. Our experience with The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP) illustrates the nature of the problem. The now-infamous Study 329 of paroxetine in adolescent depression was negative for efficacy on all eight protocol-specified outcomes and positive for harm, but JAACAP published a report of this study that concluded that “paroxetine is generally well tolerated and effective for major depression in adolescents.” The journal's editors not only failed to exercise critical judgment in accepting the article, but when shown evidence that the article misrepresented the science, refused either to convey this information to the medical community or to retract the article.
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Keywords: GlaxoSmithKline; Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; Scientific Therapeutics Information; SmithKline Beecham; clinical trials; conflict of interest; consumer fraud lawsuits; ghostwriting; medical journals; paroxetine (Paxil, Seroxat); retraction; scientific misconduct

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Discipline of Psychiatry, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia 2: Department of Philosophy, California State University, Northridge, California, USA

Publication date: 2011-01-01

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