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Sponsor Dollars Key to Flu Vaccine Study Publication

Researchers urge full funding disclosures since drug firms buy space in journals

FRIDAY, Feb. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Drug industry-funded flu vaccine studies are more likely to be published in prestigious journals and are cited more often in the scientific literature than other studies, according to researchers who assessed 274 flu vaccine studies.

The team at the Cochrane Vaccine Field in Italy found no relationship between study quality, publication in prestigious journals, or subsequent citation of the studies in other articles. Sponsorship was the single most important factor associated with where the studies were published and how often they were cited -- with those wholly or partially funded by industry having higher visibility.

Dr. Tom Jefferson and colleagues also found no relationship between journal rankings (impact factor) and the quality of the studies published by the journals. This suggests that impact factor isn't an indicator of high study quality, as suggested by some publishers. The findings also appear to confirm some widely expressed doubts about the validity of using publication in a prestigious journal as a means of rewarding researchers with promotions and funding.

The study was published in the Feb. 13 online issue of the British Medical Journal.

"The study shows that one of the levers for accessing prestige journals is the financial size of your sponsor. Pharmaceutical sponsors order many reprints of studies supporting their products, often with in-house translations into many languages. They will also purchase publicity space on the journal. Many publishers openly advertise these services on their Web site. It is time journals made a full disclosure of their sources of funding," Jefferson said in news release from the journal.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about flu vaccines.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: British Medical Journal, news releases, Feb. 13, 2009

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