In the article, “Are Conflicts of Interest in Journal Studies Unavoidable?” (Sept. 19, page 22), Tom Valeo highlighted an editorial by Drs. Chadwick and Priviera impugning the article by Blum et al. (Neurology 2006;67:400–406), on which I am a co-author.
Tom Valeo's article actually equates scientists who work for a pharmaceutical company and publish an article on research funded by that study (even with appropriate disclosures) to an elected official who accepts money to vote a certain way.
I was not interviewed by Mr. Valeo and take exception to being compared to a corrupt politician, even if indirectly in his article. I would point out that although I frequently work at the interface with industry, all of the income generated from these activities has been donated or paid directly to my university in an account that I do not control.
I think that the issue of conflict of interest is important, but it is a false panacea and an ineffective approach to focus on one and only one form of bias and conflict. Readers are left with the impression from recent editorials that a plastic pen can cause undue influence, but that large sums of money from clinical income or an NIH grant create no bias.
Further, the present unilateral approach to denigrate industry and discourage academic-industry relationships is likely to undermine even the NIH goal of enhancing translational research and especially its applications. I would think that Neurology Today should present a more balanced assessment of the problem.
Kimford J. Meador, MD
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL