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PLOS BLOGS Speaking of Medicine and Health

Emergency Medicine Australasia no longer accepting drug company advertising

The journal, Emergency Medicine Australasia, has just announced it will no longer accept advertising from drug companies.

In an editorial announcing the decision, A stand against drug company advertising, the authors George Jelinek and Anthony Brown, Emeritus Editor of EMA and Editor-in-Chief of EMA, respectively, explain the background, noting that  it was taken “following extensive debate on the growing evidence about the detrimental effects of the drug industry in medicine” and with with the support of the Councils of the owners of the journal, the Editors and Editorial Board of EMA .

This a very welcome development and one we wholeheartedly support. PLoS Medicine has never taken advertisements for drugs or devices; we laid out our position clearly when we launched in 2004 in our first editorial Prescription for a Healthy Journal.

Though many other journals have wrung their hands over the problem of the undue influence of such advertising, few have taken concrete steps. As Kelinek and Brown note,  “Prominent past and present journal editors have raised serious concerns about the influence of the drug industry in medicine. These include Richard Horton (Lancet) who says: ‘Journals have devolved into information laundering operations for the pharmaceutical industry’; Richard Smith (British Medical Journal) who describes medical journals as ‘an extension of the marketing arm of pharmaceutical companies’; and Marcia Angell (NEJM) who describes the pharmaceutical industry as: ‘Primarily a marketing machine to sell drugs of dubious benefit  . . .’.  Unfortunately, these views have not been translated into action; all three journals not only accept drug company advertising, but keenly solicit it.Only a few journals, such as PLoS Medicine, have actively taken a stand against drug advertising by pharmaceutical companies.”

As the authors conclude

“Doctors need to stop being used as agents of the drug industry in the complex financial arrangement between drug companies and consumers. It is time to show leadership and make a stand, and medical journals have a critical role to play in this. At EMA we have therefore drawn a line in the sand, and have stopped all drug advertising forthwith. We invite other journals to show their support and follow suit, by declaring their hand and doing the same.”

We couldn’t agree more.

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