Study 329: BMJ Transparency

November, 6, 2015 | 17 Comments


  1. As a veteran of many removed as well as unpublished BMJ Rapid Responses I can only remark that this exposes once again their sheer bad conscience – the letter points out their utter moral failure and they cannot even let it be said in their own columns. But what is demonstrated above all is the lethal whimsicality of public health policy. There may be some rules but the powerful appear to decide when and where it is expedient to observe them and where to cheat. I suspect it feeds their vanity as well as their purses.

  2. I find this very worrying. The BMJ is supposed to be a trustworthy, unbiased source of information. A leading, respected journal.
    How can any faith or trust be put in them if they do this ?

  3. To the growing list of words and ideas Banned by the BMJ, let’s add this:

    The author was invited to give the “No” side in a public debate about whether to ban smoking in mental health wards. He was also asked to draft an article giving his “Service User” perspective on the question – and the broader question of how psych hospitalization can be a more positive experience for patients.

    The project collapsed, however, when BMJ insisted on censoring every mention of serious mistreatment of patients – whether the author’s own experiences, or quotes from other “service user” bloggers! Due to legal considerations, they said, they could not print such allegations unless the staff members involved had been prosecuted or disciplined. BMJ’s proposed deletions would “reduce a piece on coercion in psychiatry to a sanitized grumble about poor food, thin curtains and the wrong type of tea.”

    Here in the USA doctors and hospitals routinely cite the threat of patient medical-malpractice lawsuits to do what they want to do anyway: prescribe dodgy drugs, run dubious tests and do unnecessary procedures. All of which just happen to be very profitable. Med-Mal suits exist of course, but they’re nowhere near the deluge claimed – and in states like Texas where they’ve been clamped down on big-time, there’s been no reduction in expensive, inappropriate care.

    Seems in the UK, the threat of Libel or Defamation lawsuits from patients has begun to function as the same type of excuse for doing what you want to do anyway. Mainly, to shut up and go along with the status quo. (See the hand-wringing from Pharma over “patient privacy” whenever demands to share their data are made.) Am I right?

  4. I am horrified and lost for words.’ Disgusting’ is the only publishable one I can think of!
    What has happened to democracy and the ‘right to reply’ for goodness sake?. This behaviour is on about the same level as the schoolyard bully’s treatment of his/her victim.

  5. This a sequence of Rapid Responses that were removed in 2010.

    Essentially it exposed that fact that something deeply unethical was happening with patients’ data being allowed to fall into the hands of a muck-raking journalist – by this time it was already pretty obvious BMJ were marshalling their forces with Brian Deer for a new attack on Wakefield’s integrity. I think the phrase used was that the letters were taken down “following a legal complaint”.

    In fact the original letter from Dr F Edward Yazbak was allowed to remain but with this sentence, which could not possibly be libellous, excised:

    “I must say that I am troubled that Mr. Deer was able to obtain the names and family backgrounds of the 12 original study patients.”

    Of course, what was at stake was that they were exposing their own potential illegality if they proceeded with Deer, as they in fact did. Godlee and co are involved in very dark politics (I don’t have to tell you).

  6. Fair play Leonie..

    The BMJ seems not to know quite what to do when patients become activists, and then whenthey become patient advocates publications like the BMJ seem to get confused even more, particularly when these patient advocates speak out loudly against Big Pharma and their misdeeds…

    I have found similar responses with my own awareness building..
    I warned the minister of mental health in Ireland over ten years ago about the dangers of SSRI’s and psychiatric drugs, particularly in youth..
    I really thought that I was getting somewhere..

    Was anything done?


    When patients themselves have to do the job of regulators, Dept of health officials, and even the work of their own doctors you know you have a system which is absolutely and totally rotten and corrupted by pharma..

    • Sorry, sounds a bit like stalking, but I have noticed your presence today and in Leonie’s blog for a while now. I am good at reading and assimilating all of this movement despite how the system supports attempts to silence the individual.
      I am not great with IT skills and as a ‘consumer’ of the much mentioned pharma-codology I don’t really know how to become an active participant so that my opinions can also be heard. Truthman are you Irish? my name is emblazoned
      on this post, is there any way I could contact you directly. Like-minded individuals are thin on the ground. A close relative of mine is an editor of a national publication for the GP reading public, another works for a research institute in a National University. I am not going to find support when their jobs are at stake, obviously.

      Please respond.

  7. I read a cheering bit of news in the Express today. Lloyds Pharmacy has barred its medical experts from prescribing the anti-malaria drug, Lariam, because of its “unpredictable side effects”, namely ‘dizziness, vivid and unpleasant dreams, memory loss and problems with anger management’ etc. Lariam ,it says, can cause neurotoxic poisoning. Could the tide be slowly turning? At least a tiny step in the right direction perhaps? Then I read the final sentence – ‘The chain will continue to honour GP prescriptions.’ Oh dear!

  8. Twitter folk twittering with Ben Goldacre… GSK Transparency Defender

    329+ reasons not to support #Alltrials..

    BMJ…listen up..

    Nick Campion ‏@NickScribbler 6 hrs6 hours ago
    @bengoldacre @adbeggs 2/2) this indicates how media could undo good research through one small element they can shriek about…

    1. 5h
    ben goldacre ✔ @bengoldacre
    My email @adbeggs Sad to see someone in such a position so odd on transparency #alltrials

    • 5h
    David Juurlink @DavidJuurlink
    Very curious swipe at #alltrials in @guardian from academia. Thread … and Ben’s letter
    Retweeted by Carmelo

    Hi @adbeggs what do you mean when you say #alltrials will “suppress legitimate research”?!

    Hi @adbeggs what do you mean when you say #alltrials will “suppress legitimate research”?!

  9. les crudités


    1. 2h
    ben goldacre ✔ @bengoldacre
    In El Pais today the medical director of European Medicines Agency comes out for #Alltrials.

    Big snogs Hans Georg!
    Retweeted by Nabucco Dream
    2. 10m
    Sense About Science @senseaboutsci
    Great piece in @elpais_espana about #AllTrials. Interview with chief medic at @EMA_News.

    Q. Do you support the initiative

    A. I think the initiative Alltrials the sector has moved forward considerably.
    They have been a great actor making us change.

    3. 4h
    Sense About Science @senseaboutsci
    The chief medic at Europe’s medicines body @EMA_News supports #AllTrials 100%! Great interview in @elpais_espana
    Retweeted by jaci Mac


    Women’s Hour, this morning on Radio 4.

    Discussion on new HRT NICE clinical guidelines. Final question by Jenni Murray to Dr Melanie Davies, regarding potential conflict of interest, where NICE panel members have taken money from drug companies. Dr Davies, who has been in reciept of funding from a large drug company, positively squirmed. Good job she wasn’t visible…

    It transpires that 50% (9 out of 18) of the NICE panel are in that dubious situation. If a woman visits her doctor, and is prescribed HRT, how on earth does that woman get to know any of this? “My doctor told me…”


  11. The BMJ is a founder member of Alltrials

    GSK pledges and Bloomberg gives GSK 100%

    Glaxo are among some drugmakers that have publicly committed to giving more public access to data than required under the law.

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