Pharma’s PR Firm Will See You Now
JAMA does not consider collaborating with Big Pharma PR a conflict of interest.
5 minute read
UPDATE: JAMA Editor-in-Chief Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo emailed the following, “Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We initiated our internal investigation earlier this week, in accordance with our standard processes for allegations of non-disclosure of conflicts.”
JAMA reporter Rita Rubin lamented in a lengthy and awkward essay earlier this month that the National Institutes of Health would be slowing awards for “misinformation research”, a term people in science are loathe to admit is merely code for censorship studies. One of the experts Rubin quotes is Dr. Richard Baron, president and chief executive officer of the American Board of Internal Medicine. But Rubin failed to inform readers that in his crusade against “disinformation” in medicine, Baron has been collaborating with Weber Shandwick, the PR firm for Pfizer and Moderna, the two manufacturers of COVID vaccines.
And here comes a shocker: Richard Baron’s concern about “misinformation” was first triggered when physicians spoke out against COVID vaccine safety, efficacy, and side effects. Of course, these are the same concerns held by Weber Shandwick, who Pfizer and Moderna are paying big buck to promote their vaccines.
What a surprise.
Now that I’ve explained what Richard Baron views as “misinformation” let me explain what Weber Shandwick views as “medicine.” Some years back, Weber Shandwick was caught aiding Forest Pharmaceuticals in their illegal promotion of Celexa for treating children and adolescents suffering from depression. Forest later pleaded guilty and paid $313 million in 2010 to resolve this with the Department of Justice.
Confused about why Baron’s relationship with Weber Shandwick was not disclosed in Rita Rubin’s JAMA essay nor in an accompanying viewpoint Baron wrote for JAMA, I emailed JAMA Editor-in-Chief Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo to explain why.
There is no disclosure within nor at the bottom of Rubin's article, nor disclosure in the Baron viewpoint that Baron has been collaborating with the PR firm Weber Shandwick on his campaign against disinformation.
Weber Shandwick just happens to be the PR firm for Pfizer and Moderna, the two COVID vaccine manufacturers.
Can you explain why JAMA did not disclose this in either the piece by Rita Rubin nor in the Baron editorial?
Did Baron not explain this to you?
I can't imagine someone writing in JAMA about climate change and not having to disclose that they are working with the PR firm for Exxon or Greenpeace.
I then followed with another email. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo chose to not respond.
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