Tuesday, March 17, 2009

jama--journal of the american medical association ... losing relevance?

i recently read such an outlandish story, i had to come out of hiatus to report it. here's a link to an article in the wall street journal from their health blog section. apologies if you can't get to it, can't remember if you need to be a subscriber to access it. just in case you can't get to it, i have an excerpt below. as a background, there was an article in jama about using antidepressants in stroke patients prophylactically (using them to prevent depression). well, it turns out that one of the authors used to get paid by the company who manufactured the drug in the study. this information was not disclosed in the article (and it should have been) so upon discovering this, a neuro-anatomy professor from lincoln memorial university in tennessee, jonathan leo, wrote a letter to the british medical journal exposing this problem and that's when it gets interesting. the wsj folk took hold of this story and below are some quotes from the editor-in-chief of jama, dr. catherine deangelis.

from wsj.com, published march 13, 2009:

In a conversation with us, DeAngelis was none too happy to be questioned about the dust-up with Leo. “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.

yes, my friends, the editor-in-chief of what is reportedly one of the most important medical journals went on the record lashing out on someone trying to set the record straight. according to leo, the executive deputy editor actually called first, essentially banning him from the journal for life. of course, the author eventually submitted a letter stating the very information dr. leo claimed (apparently an error "of memory"). if you read the wsj story, you can't believe dr. deangelis is behaving in such a manner--so defensive, angry, vindictive. even more amazing is the hypocrisy involved. read this article written by none other than dr. deangelis herself. i read many of the comments left by wsj readers. some called for dr. deangelis' resignation and cancelled their subscriptions. i feel the same way. jama and the ama has seen their day. this isn't the first time, nor will it be the last that these organizations have done questionable and unprofessional things. at the least i think physicians should call on dr. deangelis for a formal apology if not her resignation itself. this is medical arrogance at its finest.

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