New England Journal of Medicine criticized for ‘paternalistic arrogance’

The influential medical journal's policies on conflicts of interest and data sharing are raising new questions.

The New England Journal of Medicine, regarded as one of the world’s most reputable medical journals, is facing new criticism following disputes between editors and researchers about underlying data, publication, and pharmaceutical industry conflicts of interest, according to ProPublica.

The journal, which was first released in January 1812, has been the subject of considerable ire since January, when current editor Dr. Jeffrey M. Drazen wrote an editorial decrying “research parasites” that use other researchers’ data to analyze or duplicate results, which is widely seen as a standard step in the scientific process, according to ProPublica.

“Most people are afraid to say anything about the New England Journal because they’re afraid they won’t get something published there,” Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute and chief academic officer at Scripps Health, told ProPublica. “That’s part of this oppression.”


Critics have also pointed to the journal’s new standard for funding disclosures, especially when it comes to researcher financing by pharmaceutical companies. Under Drazen’s predecessors, doctors and researchers were asked to disclose any funding interests. Now, according to ProPublica’s investigation, the threshold for disclosure is much lower: New England Journal of Medicine authors can’t have “significant” ties to a company, defined as receiving more than $10,000 annually from a company.

Drazen told ProPublica that the widespread criticism of the journal’s “paternalistic arrogance” is unfounded.

“We always continually evaluate what we do to make sure we’re doing the best job possible,” he said.


Read ProPublica’s full story here.

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