Perhaps you read the editorial commentary in the August issue of Psychiatric Times in which our editor-in-chief, Ronald Pies, MD, wrote about ongoing congressional hearings into potential conflicts of interest (COIs) among prominent psychiatrists? Dr Pies wrote of the need for Psychiatric Times to ensure that “our own house is in order” and that “this begins with our own editorial board—which includes some of the most respected names in the field of psychiatry.” Dr Pies reported then that PT editorial board members would be asked to submit a detailed disclosure form in hopes that editorial transparency would help to “ensure fair and accurate reporting, as well as balanced and scientifically grounded opinion and commentary.”
We find it surprising and paradoxical that these efforts were met with the following online report, which was recently posted to the Web site of an organization called Integrity in Science (http://www.cspinet.org/integrity/watch/200809021.html).
The director of that organization declined to post Dr Pies’s responses to that report on its Web site. We believe, however, that Dr Pies’s response (which follows) needs to be heard. We hope that you will find his retort to the following online report illuminating and compelling.
Editorial board of Psychiatric Times to disclose COIs
"The ongoing congressional investigation into conflicts of interest in medicine has prompted Psychiatric Times to begin disclosing its editorial board’s conflicts of interest to readers. In an editorial, Ronald Pies, editor-in-chief of Psychiatric Times, said 'it is the editor-in-chief’s job to know of potential conflicts and to make executive decisions accordingly.' However, the move only raises further questions about who is calling the shots at leading psychiatric journals. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors’ 'Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals' says 'editors who make final decisions about manuscripts should have no personal financial involvement in any of the issues they might judge.' Top editors of psychiatric journals, though, frequently have such ties and include Pies [and 3 colleagues*] all of whom receive education grants or consulting fees from pharmaceutical companies that sell psychiatric medicines."
In response to that item, Dr Pies wrote to advise the director that “your information about my association with pharmaceutical companies is outdated and inaccurate.” He noted that “since I became editor-in-chief of Psychiatric Times in January 2007, I have not (to the best of my knowledge and recollection) received any speakers’ honoraria or stipends from any pharmaceutical companies, nor do I accept any such honoraria any longer.” Dr Pies asked “I hope you will correct the erroneous impression created by your article about my activities.”
The director responded: “. . . We use a 5-year-look-back period for conflicts of interest. This is the same look-back period used by the Journal of the American Medical Association. . . .”
In regard to the financial disclosures, the director offered “thanks for elevating your publication’s standards. I am certain it will pay dividends in the form of increased credibility in the years ahead.”