Journals may require fund links to be revealed

By Alex Nussbaum
Bloomberg News / January 21, 2011

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NEW YORK — The New England Journal of Medicine and other research publications may force scientists who submit studies to disclose payments from hedge funds.

Editors for the New England Journal, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and 12 other periodicals will discuss in June whether researchers must reveal investment-industry ties, said Karen Buckley, a New England Journal spokeswoman.

Existing rules on payments by drug makers and device companies do not cover arrangements with investors, she said.

Federal prosecutors in November alleged that Yves Benhamou, a French researcher who was advising Human Genome Sciences Inc., leaked information about a drug study to a hedge fund invested in the company.

The case has focused new attention on doctors’ consulting work, said Jerome Kassirer, who was editor in chief of the New England Journal from 1991 to 1999.

“We have no idea what the doctors’ connections are, how much they know about new research, how much they’re talking to their friends about what the most promising drugs are,’’ said Kassirer, a professor at Tufts University Medical School.

Journals publish peer-reviewed articles by scientists outlining their study results. They are followed closely by doctors and investors alike seeking insight into the value of medicines, devices, and procedures, and the reports can move company stocks, Kassirer said.

Jeffrey Drazen, the New England Journal’s current editor in chief, declined to discuss the issue because it’s “premature’’ to say what the group will do, Buckley said.