Citation:Cohen D (2005) Bold Suggestion by Smith. PLoS Med 2(7): e226. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0020226
Published: July 26, 2005
Copyright: © 2005 David Cohen. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Competing interests: DC is a former editor of Ethical Human Sciences and Services, which published several articles critical of the drug industry, and has authored articles critical of drug industry sponsorship and influence on clinical psychopharmacology trials.
Richard Smith's key suggestion  is that medical journals “should stop publishing trials” and concentrate on “critically evaluating them.” This bold and radical suggestion deserves wide debate. It's obvious that many medical journals are losing relevance as vehicles for scientific information, but it's unclear what will save them. Even as journals strive to better enforce their conflicts-of-interest disclosure rules, drug companies will strive to find or create other publication outlets that can communicate to physicians precisely what advertisers wish to communicate. In sum, an unanticipated effect of purging clinical trial reports from medical journals might be an even larger proliferation of frank advertising outlets and messages that might more effectively catch doctors' attentions.