Should op-ed publications tell us more about who wrote the op-ed and what their potential biases and conflicts of interest might be?
I am in the camp that responds with a resounding YES.
Until Bruckner is too. Write for Transparify, an organization that qualifies “the financial transparency of the main think tanks.” He is also the founder of TranspariMED, which “works to end the distortion of evidence in medicine.” His watchdog work on op-ed pieces inspired a New York Times public editor column a few years ago, “Hidden interests, closer to home. “
This week he tweeted criticism of STAT News for not revealing more about the author of an op-ed that criticizes the possible plans of the Biden administration to evaluate drug therapies. The op-ed offers a dire prediction:
Patient advocates should thoroughly scrutinize any “independent review board” commissioned by Biden’s management because it will have a conflict of interest and a bias against innovative therapies. In this scenario, patients may never receive a new, life-changing therapy because a biased review board rates it as having no “measurable benefit” based on its price alone rather than the impact that it might change. life. have for patients.
That is an overwhelming and terrifying accusation: that none The review board that will appoint the new Administration will have a bias and a conflict of interest.
What bias or conflict of interest does the author of the column have?
STAT did not provide that background. Readers are only told that the author is a visiting fellow of the Boston-based Pioneer Institute. (Addendum at 7:30 am Feb. 12: Readers were not told that the author, William S. Smith, according to the Institute’s website, “spent ten years at Pfizer Inc as Vice President of Policy and Public Affairs , where he was responsible for Pfizer’s corporate strategies for the US political environment. ”)
What is the Pioneer Institute? Their website tells you that they are a group of experts in public policy research. whose mission statement supports free enterprise and free markets. Who finances them?
Till Bruckner tweeted this graphic, writing that “it would have been nice (for STAT) to reveal that one of the think tank’s top funders is Pfizer, especially since their op-ed reflects the industry talking points 100%.”
HealthNewsReview.org has criticized STAT’s opinion policies multiple times over the past 3.5 years.
‘One hit for [STAT’s] credibility ‘: MD listed as the author of an opinion piece praising drug reps did not write it. Ghostwriting / PR influence
Another ‘breach of trust’ at STAT: Patient praising drug ads on TV says pharmaceutical PR company asked him to write an op-ed
Lowering the bar on Alzheimer’s drugs: STAT op-ed takes a pro-industry line, without disclosing the author’s pharmaceutical links
In response to some of these criticisms, STAT revised its guidelines for opinion piece submissions. But the last example raises the question of whether that went far enough.
To be clear, STAT offers excellent journalism. But for the sake of continuous quality improvement, you should re-examine your op-ed and broader conflict of interest policies.
By the way, I have no financial conflict of interest in this matter, as I have no income or funding for this project.
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