Medical Journal Pulls Column Critical of Patient Group

In November, the New England Journal of Medicine pulled an opinion column by Dr. Robert Steinbrook that was critical of ties between the National Kidney Foundation and drug companies. The column was to accompany the publication of two studies cautioning that the use of the drug erythropoietin (EPO), as recommended by the foundation, appeared to increase the risk of heart failure and kidney problems. Instead, the journal published a softer editorial by Julie Ingelfinger, a deputy editor at the journal, but without disclosing that she has close ties to the foundation. Steinbrook's article was published in The Lancet. He noted that of the 18 members of the foundation's group that formulated the EPO guidelines, two-thirds had financial ties to the drug's manufacturers or marketers. In 2005 the foundation, David Armstrong writes in the Wall Street Journal, "received $4.1 million from Amgen Inc. and $3.6 million from Johnson & Johnson's Ortho Biotech, the current marketers of EPO in the U.S."