The National Library of Medicine (NLM) has quietly announced that it will henceforth include funding and conflict-of-interest statements on the abstracts published on PubMed, its searchable site for scientific publications.
This happened because of a petition organized by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), which I signed, and which called for this method of disclosure. CSPI sent a formal request to the NLM on March 30, 2016. The NLM announcement came one year later.
CSPI issued a press release:
Hundreds of millions of searches are conducted on PubMed annually by people around the globe. In a March 2016 letter to NIH and NLM, CSPI and other supporters cited studies published in Cochrane Collaboration, PLoS Medicine, and elsewhere that found that outcomes of studies on drugs, medical devices, and nutrition were often favorable to funders’ interests.
“Adding disclosures about researchers’ financial relationships with drug, food, chemical, and other industries makes PubMed search results even more useful than they already are,” said CSPI president Michael F. Jacobson. “We thank the National Library of Medicine for adding this feature and hope journalists who rely on PubMed make consistent use of it when reporting on studies related to nutrition and health.”
The press release quotes me:
New York University nutrition scientist Marion Nestle tracked 168 industry-funded studies on her blog, foodpolitics.com. By her count, 156 of those reported studies favorable to the sponsors’ interests.
“These required extensive library searches to find the disclosure statements,” said Nestle. “I only looked for papers that seemed industry-funded from their titles, and undoubtedly missed many with both positive and negative results. This new policy will make this kind of research much easier and more accurate.”
Amen to that.