JAMA drops requirement for independent stat analysis

In 2005, there was a widely-publicized global effort by the world’s leading medical journals to try to rein in conflicts of interest that were polluting medical studies. Since that time, we’ve seen a steady erosion of that noble effort, mainly because so few studies could actually meet the new, stricter conflict of interest guidelines, and consequently the journals had little to publish. It has become like a long-running, mutual game of “chicken” between the drug industry and the journals. The latest development is the Journal of the American Medical Association’s decision to drop all requirements that clinical studies undergo independent statistical analysis prior to publication. The JAMA editorial states that their policy has been “perceived by some in academia and industry as creating barriers to publication of important trial results.” (CMM note: Er, wasn’t that what the policy was supposed to do?) Accordingly, the JAMA editorial continues, “JAMA will evaluate and consider for publication clinical trials that are analyzed by statisticians employed by or contracted by the study sponsor, without requiring independent statistical analysis by an academic biostatistician.”