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:
‚ÄúThis guy is a nobody and a nothing‚Äù she said of Leo. ‚ÄúHe is trying to make a name for himself. Please call me about something important.‚Äù She added that Leo ‚Äúshould be spending time with his students instead of doing this.‚Äù
When asked if she called his superiors and what she said to them, DeAngelis said ‚Äúit is none of your business.‚Äù 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.