Published online 9 April 2008 | Nature 452, 677 (2008) | doi:10.1038/452677d

News in Brief

Pfizer fails to gain access to peer-review files

A federal magistrate in Massachusetts last week ruled that The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) does not have to comply with a subpoena issued by Pfizer forcing the journal to provide confidential peer-review documents related to the painkillers Celebrex (celecoxib) and Bextra (valdecoxib).

The drug firm had tried to compel the NEJM to hand over peer reviews and internal editorial discussions for 11 papers on the painkillers. It argued that these would help it defend the arthritis drugs in lawsuits alleging that they caused heart attacks and strokes (see Nature 452, 6–7 ; 2008).

In his 12-page opinion, Leo Sorokin wrote that the material Pfizer sought seemed relevant on first examination, but that “<i>NEJM</i>'s interest in maintaining the confidentiality of the peer-review process is a very significant one … and tip[s] the scales in favor of the NEJM.

The judgement comes three weeks after an Illinois judge ruled against Pfizer after it issued almost identical subpoenas to The Journal of the American Medical Association and Archives of Internal Medicine.  

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