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Letters to the Editor   |    
Questions on Conflict of Interest
David A. Gorelick, M.D., PH.D.; Paul S. Appelbaum, M.D.
Am J Psychiatry 2010;167:1407-1407. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2010.10070978
View Author and Article Information
Baltimore, M.D.
New York, N.Y.

accepted for publication in August 2010.

Dr. Gorelick is supported by the Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health. Dr. Appelbaum has an equity interest in COVR, Inc.

Accepted August , 2010.

Copyright © American Psychiatric Association

To the Editor: We are writing to inquire about how the Journal handles issues of conflict of interest, both financial and intellectual. We raise these questions in the interest of stimulating discussion and encouraging greater transparency, not because we believe there is necessarily one right answer to any question.

What is the operational basis of the Editor's evaluation for possible influence from disclosed financial relationships? Given that such influences can be difficult for nonspecialists to detect and may operate beyond the awareness of authors themselves, what criteria are used to judge whether influence has occurred?

Restrictions on authorship have costs of their own, including exclusion of the contributions of experts in a field, and should not be undertaken lightly. However, the argument for preferring authors without financial relationships with industry seems particularly strong in the case of editorials and reviews, the value of which resides principally in the reliance that readers can place on the opinions of the authors. Advocating norms of this sort is not to suggest that industry relationships are necessarily problematic in themselves, but recognizes that certain activities may be incompatible with playing an active role in developing treatment recommendations for the field, as is the case for the development of DSM-5 (2).

Guyatt  G;  Akl  EA;  Hirsh  J;  Kearon  C;  Crowther  M;  Gutterman  D;  Lewis  SZ;  Nathanson  I;  Jaeschke  R;  Schunemann  H:  The vexing problem of guidelines and conflict of interest: a potential solution.  Ann Intern Med 2010; 152:738—741
[PubMed]
 
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References

Guyatt  G;  Akl  EA;  Hirsh  J;  Kearon  C;  Crowther  M;  Gutterman  D;  Lewis  SZ;  Nathanson  I;  Jaeschke  R;  Schunemann  H:  The vexing problem of guidelines and conflict of interest: a potential solution.  Ann Intern Med 2010; 152:738—741
[PubMed]
 
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