Background: JAMA introduced a requirement for independent statistical analysis for industry-funded trials in July 2005. We wanted to see whether this policy affected the number of industry-funded trials published by JAMA.
Methods and findings: We undertook a retrospective, before-and-after study of published papers. Two investigators independently extracted data from all issues of JAMA published between 1 July 2002 and 30 June 2008 (i.e., three years before and after the policy). They were not blinded to publication date. The randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were classified as industry funded (IF), joint industry/non-commercial funding (J), industry supported (IS) (when manufacturers provided materials only), non-commercial (N) or funding not stated (NS). Findings were compared and discrepancies resolved by discussion or further analysis of the reports. RCTs published in The Lancet and NEJM over the same period were used as a control group. Between July 2002 and July 2008, JAMA published 1,314 papers, of which 311 were RCTs. The number of industry studies (IF, J or IS) fell significantly after the policy (p = 0.02) especially for categories J and IS. However, over the same period, the number of industry studies rose in both The Lancet and NEJM.
Conclusions: After the requirement for independent statistical analysis for industry-funded studies, JAMA published significantly fewer RCTs and significantly fewer industry-funded RCTs. This pattern was not seen in the control journals. This suggests the JAMA policy affected the number of submissions, the acceptance rate, or both. Without analysing the submissions, we cannot check these hypotheses but, assuming the number of published papers is related to the number submitted, our findings suggest that JAMA's policy may have resulted in a significant reduction in the number of industry-sponsored trials it received and published.