Fridayâ€™s Wall Street Journal (High Blood Pressure: Doctors Sever Ties with Medical Journal) reports a feud between the American Society of Hypertension and the American Journal of Hypertension. The Journal faults the Society for becoming beholden to the pharmaceutical industry: Society members receive consulting and speaking fees from pharma companies, and Society endorsed continuing medical education is sometimes just pharmaceutical marketing in disguise.
The Journal of Hypertension has a valid point. On the other hand, the Hypertension Journal and other Society published and commercial journals have essentially the same problem. The pharmaceutical industry provides much of the Journalâ€™s revenue through advertising, subscriptions, and reprint orders. Pharma companies fund much of the research that is reported in the Journal, and the peer reviewers the Journal relies on are often the same Society members the Journal is now criticizing.
Whatâ€™s going on here? Physicians (and others) give higher credence to information when they hear it from multiple sources. The pharmaceutical industry has picked up on this and is busy spreading its message through multiple channels to give the appearance that the same information is coming from multiple sources even though itâ€™s really coming from just one source.
Itâ€™s critical for the physician community to understand whatâ€™s going on and insist on objectivity from its information sources.August 1, 2005