Score One for Research Integrity in the Journals

The latest "HeartWire," a pretty reasonable alerting service from WebMD, heartens us in its account of courts protecting journalistic research integrity over Big Pharma's latest attempts, this time from Pfizer, to wield the meat-axe of the subpoena.

In a Federal district Copurt in Chicago, it seems, Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys ruled that journals--in this case, JAMA--won't have to give up its critical preservation of peer-reviewer confidentiality.

You'll have guessed that this is all about Pfizer's attempts to get out of its Celebrex jam. They wanted nothing less than the actual submitted, including rejected, manuscripts, peer reviewers' identities, and the actual comments passed back and forth between editors and reviewers.

It would have had a chilling effect had this attempt to erode the integrity of the peer review process been even minimally successful. What's chilling too is the fact that Pfizer--or, let's face it, their highly compensated attorneys--could make such a brazen attempt to have a go at the basic trust so necessary to the edifice of research integrity.

What's encouraging, though, is that Judge Keys saw those attempts for what they were.