Will Medical Journals Go the Way of the White Paper – Ultra Long Sales Letters?

Apparently, there is a bit of stir in the biotech industry as one major big pharma company has put together a bunch of reports and research papers into a scientific journal like magazine. We’ve witnessed over the years how “whitepapers” went from pure research and scientific reports to ad hoc marketing pieces promoting company products and services. The problem with setting up a journal like format without identifying that it is solely produced by a company is that the reports inside may not have been peer reviewed like other scientific journals require.

Is this unethical? Some think so, some say anything goes, others warn it sets up an unfortunate precedence and since it works, others will follow, thus, questioning the scientific credibility of all science journals in biotech. Still, what other sectors of science might try this? Well, we know from the whitepaper marketing techniques that software companies, material companies, and manufacturing companies are probably inline for this scheme. According to The Scientist; ScienceBlogs Weekly Update:

“It was revealed Thursday that pharmaceutical company Merck, Sharp & Dohme paid Elsevier to produce a publication that gave the appearance of being a medical journal, but was actually a marketing promotion for Merck. The Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine, was written by the staff of Merck to favor Merck pharmaceuticals and lacked the unbiased peer review that is crucial to the credibility of medical journals, presenting evidence for the efficacy of a Merck drug when nonpharmacological therapy may have worked just as well.”

Perhaps, you can see the implications of this. If the scientific community comes down hard on this tactic, it may stop and thus, some self-policing may solve the problem, but if not and certainly a bio-tech company has enough money and public relations power to drown out the critics, then indeed, we might see this happening more and more. And maybe it is happening elsewhere presently, although we shall see? Think on this.

Skeptical Journal Club: How To Read A Medical Study

For best viewing experience, please download the following .pdf files of the studies discussed in Dr. Cmar’s talk:

One of the most important aspects of being a healthy skeptic is knowing that just because a scientific study was done on a topic does not mean the study was done well, or that the conclusion the authors reach is supported by what they actually did. But when someone states that a particular study has major flaws or was well-done, what precisely does that mean?

In this video, Dr. John Cmar analyzes two different journal articles in detail, focusing on the good, the bad, and the ugly of how studies are done and interpreted.

John Cmar, MD, has been long enthralled with horrible infections that could spell doom for humankind, as well as sanity and skepticism in the practice of medicine. He is currently an Instructor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and the Assistant Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore. He is the lead physician in Sinai’s Ryan White initiative, which provides medical care and social assistance to patients with HIV infection who are without medical insurance.

In his role as Program Director for the Internal Medicine residency program at Sinai, he teaches an annual course series in Evidence-Based Medicine, among many other duties.
He also does Infectious Diseases outreach in Baltimore television and print media, and is the guest-in-residence on the monthly Midday on Health show with Dan Rodricks on 88.1 WYPR radio in Baltimore. John is a science fiction and fantasy fan, avid gamer, and podcast enthusiast. He currently blogs and podcasts on skeptical, medical, and geeky topics as Saint Nickanuck of the Tundra at johncmar.com

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