The prestigious New England Journal of Medicine in 2006 published an article on lung cancer that found a majority of stage I lung cancers treated after their detection by CT screening had a favorable prognosis. One of the sponsors of the study was the “Foundation for Lung Cancer: Early Detection, Prevention and Treatment” The editors went on to say: “We recently learned that this foundation was headed by the principal investigator of the 2006 study, that it was housed at her academic institution, and that the only contributor during most of its existence was the Vector Group, the parent company of Liggett, a major tobacco company. We and our readers were surprised to learn that the source of the funding of the charitable foundation was, in fact, a large corporation that could have an interest in the study results.”
The editors in an appropriate broad swipe at this unscrupulous conduct said: “We believe that it is important that the ultimate source of funding be made clear to the Journal‘s readers. Second, it is appropriate to ask whether a study on clinical outcomes in lung cancer should be directly underwritten in part by the tobacco industry. Given the enormous burden of smoking-related illness and the ongoing sale of cigarettes and other forms of tobacco, one might question the advisability of research entities accepting funding from tobacco companies.
The editors of this prestigious journal are to be commended for bringing this situation to light. Doctors who rely on these articles are entitled to know what is being bought and paid for by the tobacco industry. It is so outrageous that the Medical Society needs to step in and conduct a thorough investigation into how this happened, how many other times it has happened, and how to prevent it from happening again. The public deserves no less.