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That'll Encourage Them to Report Conflicts

In the wake of the conflict of interest hoopla at JAMA, the journal has set a new policy regarding complaints.

Lincoln Memorial University's Jonathan Leo had posted a letter at the British Medical Journal's website that criticized a JAMA study from last spring because it left out a key finding and because the lead author had a financial relationship with Forest Laboratories, the maker of the drug under study. JAMA editor in chief Catherine DeAngelis says in an editorial that her comment, cited in the Wall Street Journal, calling Leo "a nobody and a nothing" was erroneously reported. That editorial, co-authored by the journal's executive deputy editor Phil Fontanarosa, adds that by posting his BMJ letter and contacting the media that Leo made a "serious ethical breach of confidentiality" and that he "should not plan to submit future manuscripts or letters for publication."

The editorial also outlined JAMA's new policy: "JAMA will require that the individual bringing the allegations provide a written detailed explanation of the unreported conflicts of interest and provide documentation to support the allegation. The person bringing the allegation will be specifically informed that he/she should not reveal this information to third parties or the media while the investigation is under way, will be informed about progress of the investigation, upon request, as appropriate, and will be notified when the investigation is completed."

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