The editors of the European Heart Journal rejected a request by a senior GSK executive to suppress an editorial written by Steve Nissen about rosiglitazone (Avandia).
The incident is recounted in a separate editorial written by the EHJ editor-in-chief, Thomas Lüscher, and two deputy editors, Ulf Landmesser, and Frank Ruschitzka, and published online on April 23. According to the editors, the EHJ received a letter (click here to download a PDF of the letter) on February 21, 2010 from the chairman of R&D at GSK, Moncef Slaoui. In response to the online publication on February 12 of an editorial by Nissen, the GSK executive “urged the journal not to publish the online editorial in print,” according to the EHJ editors. The EHJ editors recount their response: “The journal’s editorial board discussed the issue and unanimously agreed that such a demand was unacceptable.”
The editors did offer GSK the opportunity to respond to the Nissen editorial, and also invited Nissen to respond to the GSK statement. Along with the editors’ editorial, the GSK letter to the editor and Nissen’s response are now published on the EHJ website.
The GSK letter states that Nissen’s editorial
is rife with inaccurate representations and speculation that fall well outside the realm of accepted scientific debate. We strongly disagree with several key points within the editorial, most importantly those which imply misconduct on the part of GSK and have identified some of these issues below. On this basis, GSK believes that it is necessary for the journal to withdraw this editorial from the website and refrain from publishing it in hard copy, until the journal has investigated these inaccuracies and unsubstantiated allegations.
In his response, Nissen writes that GSK’s effort “to censor public debate about a critical public health issue is unacceptable and represents a grave threat to academic freedom.” He continues:
If we allow a pharmaceutical company to control what we are allowed to publish, scientific discussion and debate would suffer irreparable harm. This demand from GSK constitutes an unacceptable attempt to interfere with the editorial decisions of a major medical journal.
Nissen then proceeds to defend the accuracy of his editorial point by point.
(I would like to express my gratitude to the eagle-eyed and indefatigable Marilyn Mann for first directing my attention to the EHJ editorial. –LH)
Previous CardioBrief coverage of Avandia:
- Avandia again: Nissen and JAMA editors spin RECORD round and round (March 23, 2010)
- Avandia: a plaque on both your houses! (February 24, 2010)
- More Avandia action: Nissen secretly recorded GSK execs, FDA announces safety review (February 22, 2010)
- Senate releases Avandia report, GSK responds to attacks (February 20, 2010)
- NY Times: FDA and senate reports slam continued availability of Avandia (rosiglitazone) (February 20, 2010)
- BMJ study questions “whether ongoing use of rosiglitazone is justified in any circumstance” (August 18, 2009)
- Rosiglitazone goes on the RECORD, but is it a hit? (June 5, 2009)
- Senate investigation revealing new details in Avandia case, WSJ reports (January 14, 2009)