The Journal of the American Medical Association recently “gagged” authors of articles submitted to JAMA from speaking to the media or issuing a press release until after the article is printed in the journal. The best argument for this action is that new medical knowledge might better serve the public if initially released through a bona fide journal so that doctors could allay and diffuse widespread excessive public hopes and worries.
In reality, however, JAMA actually breaks its own rule by pre-releasing articles to the media days or sometimes weeks before physicians receive and have time to read them.
The JAMA editors say they want this control so that articles will be “accurate.” But let’s take a look at the selection process. The supposed “independent” peer reviewers who approve articles are hand-picked AMA loyalists. They might be able to judge whether the findings pass the “sniff test,” but don’t have the means, time or charge to evaluate or repeat the scientific studies to provide an objective analysis.
Dr. George Lundberg, formerly JAMA’s editor for some 17 years, said, “the journal’s newly stated policy is ‘heavy-handed’ and more stifling in tone” than the one in effect during his own tenure.
So why the blackout? According to Miguel A. Faria, M.D., editor of The Medical Sentinel, the AMA has sold out to commercial interests: “The AMA needs to maintain government-funded research and to protect the private cash-cow sources of research funding.” In 1999, The Medical Sentinel’s publicly issued challenge to JAMA to match a new “truth-in-research” policy requiring the release of all research was met with deadly silence
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