A federal district court in Chicago dened a Pfizer subpoena that would have "threatened the integrity of [the journals'] peer-review process," as Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) editor Dr Catherine D DeAngelis writes in JAMA.
Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys ruled that the journals were not compelled to provide Pfizer with documents regarding how manuscripts are accepted/rejected, or hand over copies of rejected manuscripts, identities of peer reviewers and the manuscripts they reviewed, and comments by and among peer reviewers and editors. Pfizer had requested the documents as part of a broad request for information it hoped to use in its defense against more than 3000 lawsuits pertaining to how celecoxib and valdecoxib were advertised and marketed.
The editorial explains that JAMA and the Archives journals have always deliberately kept the names of peer reviewers confidential and have a policy of not disclosing the topics of papers ultimately not accepted for publication. "This promise to reviewers and authors allows the peer-review process to work in an unrestrained environment. Producing any of these documents, with or without names, would seriously compromise the process and the trusting relationship among the editors, authors, and reviewers."
In her ruling, Judge Keys agreed with the journal editors that this information could be kept confidential from Pfizer and the public and that any information Pfizer's lawyers might need could be obtained from published articles.
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