JAMA editors pressure antidepressant whistle blower

This is both odd and slightly disturbing. The Wall Street Journal reports that a medical researcher has been publicly insulted and allegedly threatened by the editors of the medical heavyweight Journal of the American Medical Association for calling out an antidepressant study for undisclosed conflicts of interest.

Jonathan Leo, a professor of neuroanatomy at Lincoln Memorial University, wrote a succinct and reasonably worded letter to the British Medical Journal noting that a study on the use of the antidepressant escitalopram (Lexapro) in stroke had concluded that the drug was better than other treatments, when in fact the data supported no such claims.

He also noted that the authors had failed to disclose their ties to the drug makers Forest Laboratories.

For his trouble he was phoned by the JAMA editors who allegedly made some academic threats to him, his students, and his superiors.

The story was followed-up by the Wall Street Journal who contacted the editor-in-chief Catherine DeAngelis. Surprisingly, DeAngelis publicly insulted Leo and is quoted by the WSJ saying:

“This guy is a nobody and a nothing” she said of Leo. “He is trying to make a name for himself. Please call me about something important.” She added that Leo “should be spending time with his students instead of doing this.”

When asked if she called his superiors and what she said to them, DeAngelis said “it is none of your business.” She added that she did not threaten Leo or anyone at the school.

This would perhaps be less shocking had the authors of the study in question not publicly apologised for omitting conflicts of interest and confirmed that the drug was not a superior treatment in subsequent letters to JAMA.

Ironically, DeAngelis has a reputation for closely monitoring conflicts of interest and has made JAMA a leader in requiring such admissions from authors.

Furious Seasons has been keeping tabs on the situation and as usual had the scoop before the WSJ got involved.

Link to WSJ piece “JAMA Editor Calls Critic a ‚ÄòNobody and a Nothing‚Äô”.

4 Comments

  1. Posted March 14, 2009 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Hi. I was wondering if you guys were aware of MindHacks.org. They seem to be using your name for stupid spiritual crap. I have to admit I was confused and shocked at first, until I realized it was a .org at the end. Do you have Mind Hacks registered as a trademark? If so, I would pursue action… I can’t imagine they did this unintentionally.

  2. Posted March 14, 2009 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    That is shameful behaviour. Pharmaceuticals are scary in the way that they throw their financial weight around. Anyone who stands up for proper disclosure should be honoured. Haven’t we learned enough from the Wall Street fiasco?

  3. AngelaE8654
    Posted March 15, 2009 at 2:19 am | Permalink

    MindHacks.org has been around awhile; they are 3 1/2 years old with a Page Rank of 4. I’m not sure they’re actually trying to copy this site; they have a totally different look.

  4. Enterhase
    Posted March 15, 2009 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    It’s only a matter of time before they take the gambling and the unions.
    I can hear them already… “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”


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