A study published in the online journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine in April has found that there may be a correlation between the amount of pharmaceutical advertising that a medical journal contains and its editorial content concerning dietary supplements.
My belief is that this study clearly shows how the dietary supplement and alternative healthcare industries are pushed aside in favor of large corporate advertising budgets.
For the study, researchers recorded instances of pharmaceutical advertisements (including ads for prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and drug-eluting stents) and dietary supplement editorial content in all issues published within a 1-year time span of 11 major medical journals. The 11 selected journals focus on general medicine, internal medicine or pediatrics, and issues spanned from June 2006 through June 2007.
According to the authors’ results, the average number of pharmaceutical ads varied from less than a page to over 60 pages per issue, and the amount of dietary supplement editorial content ranged from 4 to 61 instances per journal. The journals with the most pharmaceutical ads published fewer major articles about dietary supplements (i.e., original research, editorials, reviews) per issue than journals with a medium level of such ads. Journals with the fewest pharmaceutical ads published the most major dietary supplement articles. Here's the kicker . . . Journals with the most pharmaceutical advertising were also significantly more likely to publish major articles concluding that dietary supplements were unsafe than journals with a medium or low level of pharmaceutical advertising.
The study’s results were consistent with the authors’ hypothesis that pharmaceutical advertising may bias journals against non-drug therapies.