There is a class of legal cases that are so blatant lawyers call them Oh My God cases, you know, the kind when you see the facts you say, “Oh my God” (NB: don’t give me grief because I’m an atheist. I’m allowed to use colloquial phrases that have their origins in myth and superstition).
Back to the subject. I’m a journal editor and also a frequent peer reviewer of scientific articles for other journals (I’m procrastinating reviewing three of them by writing this post). And in that context, I’d call this story an Oh my God story:
A peer reviewer leaked a paper due to appear in The New England Journal of Medicine to the manufacturer of a drug criticized in the manuscript, according to a news article in Nature.
The reviewer, Steven M. Haffner, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, broke the journal’s confidentiality rules by faxing a copy of a review of studies on the diabetes drug Avandia to a colleague at GlaxoSmithKline, the pharmaceutical company. Dr. Haffner has received consulting fees and speaker’s honoraria from the company.
The review article linked taking Avandia to an increased risk of heart attack. When it appeared online in the journal last May, Glaxo’s stock fell by 13 percent, according to Nature. (Lila Guterman, Chronicle for Higher Education)
Dr. Haffner is reportedly shamefaced and admits to “bad judgment.” Yes, I’d say that all right. I’ll also admit to feeling a little sorry for him. But at the same time, all I can say is, “Oh my God!”