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Journal won't bar authors on drug makers payrolls

Fear of antitrust lawsuits cited by JAMA editor

The Journal of the American Medical Association said it and other periodicals would be sued by the pharmaceutical industry if they banned authors who fail to reveal financial ties to drug makers.

``There's a risk for antitrust suits," said Catherine DeAngelis, editor in chief of Chicago-based JAMA, in a phone interview. ``I've talked to lawyers, and so have other journals."

Last month, JAMA said doctors failed to disclose their ties to drug makers in two separate studies, including one that linked migraines to heart attacks in women. The journal, which has the largest circulation of any medical periodical, published corrections in both cases.

Researchers who flout disclosure rules can expect ``appropriate corrective actions" from their universities, DeAngelis said in an editorial published yesterday .

DeAngelis rejected suggestions that JAMA ban authors who are revealed to have undisclosed financial ties to drug makers.

That ``would only encourage that author to send his or her articles to another journal; it cleans our house by messing others," DeAngelis wrote.

If all medical journals agreed to ban such authors, antitrust issues would arise, she said.

While a collective agreement might be unlawful, there's nothing stopping JAMA and other journals from sharing the names of authors who've broken the rules, said Stephen Ross, a former lawyer for the Federal Trade Commission and a law professor at Pennsylvania State University.

``They could even jointly observe that particular journals published a certain researcher" despite past problems with disclosure, said Ross.

In the study linking migraines and heart disease, the study's six authors had all worked as consultants or paid speakers for companies that make drugs to treat headaches or heart disease.

Last month, JAMA also corrected a February study on depression, noting that more than half the authors were paid speakers or consultants for antidepressant makers.

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