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Journalistic Relationships May Jeopardize Credibility of Publications

Medical journals are supposed to be objective, or at least that is the hope. But the journalistic integrity – as well as the medical integrity – of two of the country’s most popular journals has been questioned. The journals, Critical Reviews in Toxicology and Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, are not only two of the most expensive medical journals to which one can subscribe, but also two of the most widely cited. Further, they are indexed by the National Institutes of Health, and have pledged to uphold scientific and ethical standards. So why are critics claiming that the journals publish “junk science”?

Industry Ties and Pointed Publications

Critics of the journals are claiming that the journals publish studies disputing well-known health risks, such as asbestos exposure, lead exposure, and even pollution. In 2012, one of the journals published an article disputing claims made by OSHA that exposure to disease fuel was linked to lung cancer (a move that was criticized as being not for “science’s sake”). One anti-asbestos advocate told journalists for The Center for Public Integrity that one would “have to be delusional” to not recognize that the issues about which the journals are publishing have deep ties to “the profits of very powerful sources.”

So Are There Really Corporate Ties?

The short answer is yes – it appears that those who work for the journals do maintain close ties with those in the corporate world (namely, corporations who continue to do things detrimental to public health). Consider the fact that Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology’s editor is Gio Gori, who in his earlier years made millions of dollars as a consultant for big tobacco. Frederick Coulston, a scientist who died in 2003, but who previously wrote for one of the journals, went so far as to claim the nicotine was not addictive.

Leon Golberg, the founding editor of Critical Reviews in Toxicology, has since passed. However, his ties with profitable industries is well documented, including the founding of a consulting firm where clients include both Exxon Mobile and Procter & Gamble. Goldberg was also implicated when, in 1971, the FDA came out avidly against the synthetic hormone diethylstilbestrol (DES) due to its link to vaginal cancer and problems with fertility; Goldberg had co-created the hormone way back in 1938.

The questionable ties continue: Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology is also the official publication of the International Society of Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. Leaders of this association are well known, and include lawyers, corporate consultations, and even an executive of Coca Cola.

When Science Gets Lost in Politics

The bottom line is this: sometimes, science may get lost in the politics in an effort to raise doubt. Even the slightest amount of doubt can be enough to prevent a product or chemical from being removed, keeping people sick.

When it comes to health, toxicology, dangerous substances, and more, knowing whom to trust can be difficult. These journals aside, there are dozens of other sources of peer-reviewed journals that may have a different opinion.

If a dangerous product or chemical causes you harm, you may have a lawsuit. Consult with the personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C. to learn more today by calling (215) 567-3500.

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