By John Stone
After a succession of posts on Age of Autism (Age of Autism Holier Than Thou , Age of Autism Emporer Has No Clothes & Age of Autism Double-Speak ) BMJ have been forced in a humiliating climb-down to publish a letter in its on-line columns pointing to BMJ Groups relationship with MMR manufacturer Merck in the context of its attack on Andrew Wakefield earlier this year (HERE ). The articles by Brian Deer re-cycled allegations first published in the Sunday Times in 2009 shortly after proprietor James Murdoch was appointed to the board of another MMR manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline. BMJ finally published a letter referring to the Murdoch dimension by Dr Mark Struthers yesterday: plainly they were not prepared to publish letters of this kind until substantial pressure had been brought to bear. It remains to be seen whether they are yet prepared to make proper disclosures about these matters in the appropriate places in the journal both in hard copy and on-line, including Mr Deer’s articles and associate editorial material.
Re: Time to curtail the excesses of vested interest
John Stone UK Editor, Age of Autism
I refer to a BMJ Group press release published on the Wall Street Journal website last week 'BMJ Group Chooses SDL to Support Medical Translations for Univadis Online Platform'. Anyone reading either the title or indeed the entire text of the release might suppose that 'Univadis' was a BMJ product rather than the information arm of pharmaceutical manufacturer MSD (Merck Sharp & Dohme).
When Dr Godlee was challenged about this in March she explained that this and other BMJ conflicts had not been disclosed in it and Mr Brian Deer's allegations against Andrew Wakefield over MMR because "it did not occur to us to do so" . Well, surely it must have done now.