Facing a seemingly intractable problem, we are often moved to go for any fast solution – just not to deal with this problem any longer. Such radical solutions may have adverse effects but, as the saying goes: “You have to break an egg to make an omelet”. Back in the early 2000s, there was some evidence unearthed that some prominent clinical neuroscientists have authored papers that they did not write (and apparently were paid by pharma industry for lending their names). As one of the consequences, industry scientists, no matter whether clinical or nonclinical, could no longer present their work at the ACNP meetings. At that time, ACNP was the most influential and attractive conference where one could learn about exciting news on progress in drug development in psychiatry. Having less industry contributions, the conference suffered as well because it lost its unique appeal.
Relationships between industry and academy do require maximum transparency and these relationships are complex. In this context, we find a recent discussion triggered by Dr. Marcia Angell, editor-in-chief of The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), of particular interest:
What if the NEJM also follows the example of ACNP and bans or reduces the number of publications originating from or funded by industry? From the top 50 best cited papers published in NEJM (Jan 1, 2014 to Sep 20, 2018), only 12 had no industry funding or co-authorship. 33 papers were associated with pharma and 5 with medical device companies.
So, perhaps, it is better to have a peaceful conversation and work on all existing problems together…