In July, 2005, the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association began requiring that all write-ups of research that had been funded by private sector sources must undergo separate statistical reviews before being accepted for publication.
Oddly, no other first-tier journal followed suit.
Benjamin Djulbegovic of the University of South Florida decided to see whether the unilateral move impacted the types of trials published in top medical peer-reviewed journals. Lo and behold, it did!
In a presentation at last month’s Peer Review Congress, Djulbegovic showed a significant drop the number of industry-funded trials published in JAMA and a coincident increase in such trials that were published in the New England Journal of Medicine and Lancet, the 2 other top-tier journals he studied.
Following Djulbegovic’s presentation, JAMA editor Catherine DeAngelis told an audience of fellow journal editors, “the cynic in me says that if you’re not submitting to JAMA because you have something to hide, so be it. God bless the rest of you for taking those [studies]!”
Djulbegovic reached his conclusion by examining all issues from the 3 journals for the 3 years before, and the 3 years after JAMA enacted its policy.
He found that compared with the preceding period, JAMA published 26% fewer commercially-funded studies after the policy was enacted (63% vs. 37%).
Meanwhile NEJM and Lancet published 12% and 10% more such trials after the JAMA policy went into effect.
The publishing rate for non-commercially funded studies was unchanged in all 3 journals.
Djulbegovic added that if industry-funded trials are simply rerouted from JAMA to another top-tier journal, then the JAMA policy wouldn’t have much impact.
That could only happen if other top-tier journals adopted similar policies.