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NEJM Changes View on Authors' Financial Interests

Deena A. Said

A recent revision to a New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) policy allows manuscripts from authors with financial interests in a company to be considered for publication, providing the interest is not "significant."1

In an editorial published in June, NEJM editors admitted feeling constrained in their ability to provide up-todate information, particularly information about recent therapeutic advances, under a policy created in 1990. Rather than bar authors with any financial interest in a company that makes or competes with a product discussed in a review or editorial, the journal will now require that those authors not have significant financial interest.

NEJM’s definition of significant restricts authors of reviews and editorials to receiving an upper limit of $10,000 annually from a company, and no holding in which the potential for profit is unlimited, such as stock, stock options, and patent positions.

By modifying its conflict-of-interest guideline, NEJM now recognizes levels of financial interest. The journal acknowledges that authors receiving "honorariums for occasional educational lectures sponsored by biomedical companies" are less likely to be influenced than authors with "ownership of substantial equity" in a company.

With the change, NEJM’s policy now conforms to the policies of the National Institutes of Health and the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy (AJHP) has followed a similar policy when considering manuscripts from authors with industry ties to ensure that accurate and timely information on new drug therapies is made available to practitioners. The editors believe that the level of expertise required to author reviews on new drugs is often found among these contributors.2

  1. Drazen JM, Curfman GD. Financial associations of authors. N Engl J Med. 2002; 346:1901-2. Editorial.
  2. Miller JL. Drug review articles and industry ties. Am J Health-Syst Pharm. 1997; 54:30-1.