A letter was published that provides guidance on prescribing a particular drug in children. There are anxieties about the use of this drug in children, and sometime back a letter from essentially the same group on the same subject was published in the same journal. The electronic version of this original letter included a conflict of interest statement, but the paper edition did not. This was a mistake. Unfortunately neither the paper nor the electronic version of the new letter included the conflict of interest statement. It clearly should have done, not least because it seems that one of the authors of the current letter received funding from the manufacturers of the drug. The intention is to go ahead and gather conflict of interest statements and publish them in both the paper and the electronic versions of the journal, but the lead author of the second letter seems to be opposed to this move. The journal plans to override his objections. Does COPE agree with this? A further issue raised by the second letter is that the third party wrote to say that three of the authors of the letter do not support everything that is contained in it. Wouldn’t most people who read a piece that is signed by many authors believe that all authors support what is published unless it specifically states otherwise? What action should be taken on this issue?
The exclusion of the conflict of interest statement from the paper version was the fault of the editorial process. Statements were included with other published articles but not “letters”.
No further action was taken.