Saturday, June 4, 2011

Prof. Pat McGorry and the disclosure of conflicts of interest - what a friggin' joke!

I had to laugh out loud today when I noticed the disclosure statement next to an article written by the Australian psychiatrist, former Australian of the Year and influencer of politicians Professor Patrick McGorry about suicide that was published on April 15th 2011 at a website titled The Conversation beta, which looks like something from Australia that has aspirations to seriousness. The blurb next to the disclosure statement says:

"Our goal is to ensure the content is not compromised in any way. We therefore ask all authors to disclose any potential conflicts of interest before publication."

Well, the folks at The Conversation can ask all they like, but the prof only disclosed this much:

"Pat McGorry receives funding from the NHMRC."

I have serious doubts that this statement covered everything. This online article was published in April 2011 only a month after the publication in March 2011 of a piece by Prof. McGorry and another author was published in the medical journal Australian Family Physician, which included this rather fuller disclosure statement:

"Funding and support: Professor McGorry receives funding from the
Colonial Foundation, and from a program grant and a Clinical Centre
Research Excellence Grant from the National Health and Medical
Research Council of Australia. He has also received research grant
support from Janssen Cilag, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Novartis and Astra Zeneca."

I guess someone might try to pose the question of how long does it take for a medical researcher to live down a professional conflict of interest. I'd say it would have to be a lot longer than a month, and I'm sure that some would say that there is no "use by" date for conflicts of interest.


McGorry, Patrick (2011)
The sort of conversation we should be having about suicide. The Conversation (beta). April 15th 2011.

McGorry, Patrick D. and Goldstone, Sherilyn (2011) Is this normal? Assessing mental health in young people. Australian Family Physician. March 2011 Vol 40, (3) 94-97.


  1. Well spotted Lili
    Patrick McGorry seems to disclose links to pharmaceutical companies only when he publishes in journals that strictly enforce their conflict of interest policies (the same goes for Ian Hickie). Unfortunately that does not include the Medical Journal of Australia, which has published many articles by McGorry, including a whole supplement on youth mental health, with no disclosure of links by him, despite disclosures by co-authors.
    Melissa Raven

  2. Your comment was incorrectly flagged as spam, but I've sorted that out now.

    If you really are Melissa Raven, I'm most honoured to have your comment here!

    It wasn't actually me who spotted the lack of disclosure, that was something that I read by someone else, maybe yourself or Martin Whitely. I've been meaning to get around to writing a bit about his recent book about the most alarming situation re ADHD and drug companies in WA and Australia. I like to chase things down to bare facts and details, so I made my list of McGorry papers with and without disclosure. If I'd had the time today I would have liked to search for McGorry papers that aren't open access, to see how many more I might find that have an empty section for "competing interests".

    So Hickie also does this stuff? And the MJA lets it happen? What's going on? Have journalists ever written about this stuff? Could you refer me to a story about this in the press or the ABC or something? If you care to look back through my blog I've made comment on a few political events that appear to have been barely reported by journalists, which I think are pretty important.

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