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General medicine
Cochrane authors on drug industry payroll should not be allowed
  1. Peter C Gøtzsche
  1. Institute of Scientific Freedom, Copenhagen, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Dr Peter C Gøtzsche, Institute of Scientic Freedom, Copenhagen, Denmark; pcg{at}scientificfreedom.dk

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Cochrane reviews must be independent of conflicts of interest associated with commercial sponsorship and should be conducted by people or organisations that are free of such bias.1

However, this is not always the case.

Cochrane commercial sponsorship policy 

People employed by a company that has a real or potential financial interest in the outcome of the review are prohibited from being authors of Cochrane reviews,1 but otherwise, they can be authors. This is problematic. A conflict of interest might be underway, and the employee might wish to conceal this, which would be similar to insider trading.

Furthermore, having industry authors on Cochrane reviews decreases public trust in the reviews. The public’s confidence in the drug industry is similarly low as its confidence in the tobacco industry and automobile repair companies.2

Another problem is that people can become authors even if they in the last 3 years have received financial support from sources that have a financial interest in the outcome. ‘In such cases, at the funding arbiter’s discretion, and only where a majority of the review authors and lead author have no relevant COIs’, it may be possible for such people to be Cochrane authors.1

Allowing almost half of the authors to receive financial support from the company whose product is being reviewed at a funding arbiter’s discretion …

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Footnotes

  • Contributors PCG is the sole author of this paper.

  • Funding This study was funded by Nordic Cochrane Centre.

  • Competing interests PCG is a co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration and a strong supporter of its basic principles. PCG strongly opposes Cochrane’s current direction of travel.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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