A JAMA journal has quickly issued a correction for a 2016 paper after the author failed to mention several relevant conflicts of interest. Normally, we’d see this as a run-of-the-mill correction notice, but since we reported last week that a journal retracted a paper for omitting pharma funding, we got to wondering: Is failure to disclose a conflict of interest a retractable offense?
Guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) do say that retractions are used for “failure to disclose a major competing interest likely to influence interpretations or recommendations.” But most of the time when we see corrections to the literature for such omissions, they’re corrections, not retractions.
On Friday, JAMA Ophthalmology issued a correction notice for an invited commentary published in April, which addressed two papers in the journal about melanoma of the eye (uveal melanoma). However, the original commentary failed to note that author Arun D. Singh at the Cleveland Clinic had some relevant conflicts to mention, as the notice explains:
To the Editor I am writing to report that I had failed to declare several conflicts of interest relevant to the subject of my Invited Commentary1 on 2 studies on gene expression profiles for uveal melanoma.2,3 In January 2016, I participated in a uveal melanoma meeting hosted by Castle Biosciences as a member of the Castle Biosciences Advisory Board, for which I received compensation. I also have received compensation for my role as an advisory board member of Aura Biosciences and Iconic Therapeutics related to investigations of novel therapies for primary uveal melanoma. I also have a pending patent application for a risk calculator of vision loss following brachytherapy.
Although “Prognostication of Uveal Melanoma: A Work in Progress” was corrected, another journal recently retracted a paper about a crow’s feet filler after learning the authors did not disclose that it was funded by a pharmaceutical company that produces the cosmetic.
Granted, the melanoma commentary was not an original research paper, and the retracted crow’s feet paper was a phase 3 trial of the cosmetic — but both papers had potential health implications. So when is retraction necessary? Tell us what you think in the poll, below.
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