Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Formal complaint letter sent to European Spine Journal

Dear Editor
I am writing as regards the recent publications by Albert et al (1, 2) in the European Spine Journal (ESJ).   These are the undisputable facts of the case:
-          Both Albert et al studies were submitted and all authors declared no conflict of interest in 2012 (1, 2)
-          Two authors (Albert and Manniche) are company directors of both ‘MAST MEDICAL EDUCATIONAL SERVICES LIMITED’ and ‘MAST MEDICAL CONCEPT LIMITED’
-           ‘MAST MEDICAL EDUCATIONAL SERVICES LIMITED’ and ‘MAST MEDICAL CONCEPT LIMITED’ were both incorporated in April 2010
-          The ESJ’s guidelines on conflict of interest state “Conflict (if none, “None” or describe financial interest/arrangement with one or more organizations that could be perceived as a real or apparent conflict of interest in the context of the subject of this article)"
These are some undisputable facts from the recent correspondence in the ESJ:
-          The Journal has been made aware of the undeclared conflicts of interest of two authors (Albert and Manniche) relating to the two studies  (as stated (3))
-          The ESJ has allowed the lead author to publish a response to the ‘ No conflict of interest?’ letter which refuses to acknowledge that being a director of a limited company whose work directly relates to the results of the studies is a conflict of interest (“there was no conflict of interest to declare” (4) )
-          The ESJ Editor has not acknowledged that the authors have failed to declare their conflicts of interest (5)
Therefore in conclusion I would like to lodge a formal complaint to the ESJ because of the failure to enforce your own clear guidelines on conflicts of interest.  This has been manifest by:
1.      The ESJ has issued no corrections to the two studies to include the conflicts of interest of the two authors (Albert and Manniche)
2.      The lead author has published a peer reviewed letter  in the ESJ denying that a conflict of interest is a conflict of interest
3.      The Journal has not at any point (Editorial by Editor and invited Editorial) acknowledged that the two authors failed to declare these conflicts of interest
If the ESJ is of the opinion that two authors being MAST company directors does not constitute a conflict of interest, then I would be interested to see how this stance could possibly be justified using the Journal’s guidelines?
I would like to make it clear that unless adequate action is now taken by the Journal, I shall be taking this case to COPE,
Kind regards

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