The Copenhagen summit might want to take a look at the state of pharmaceutical sponsored mailings. The boreal forests of Canada's north are likely dwindling due to the massive amount of paper used for uninvited conference updates and reports sent out to physicians of all specialties. These throw-away journals and articles flood my in-box every week and I'm tempted to chuck them without a glance. The problem is, and the advertising industry of course knows it, is that it's hard to just throw away what looks like honest-to-goodness medical research. We're simply drawn to information and if it's in a form that looks like a journal, well all the harder to ignore. I must also admit, that although rare, some useful and unbiased stuff occasionally floats in, just enough to keep me looking at all the other junk. Most of the time though, these publications are no more than pharmaceutical info-mercials.. Almost always there is a thin veneer of respectability, feebly attempted by throwing in the name of a competitor in a non-threatening study or even better, to show a non-pharma related article to suggest that this is really just an educational forum.
I've developed my own strategy for these publications. If I'm busy, I chuck the lot. This is the usual and undoubtedly the best approach. If I've got a bit of time on my hands or need some bathroom reading, I will sometimes play the 'guess the sponsor' game. I browse through the publication's article titles, then try to guess the pharma sponsor of the publication based on the meagre information gleaned from the titles alone. If I guess right, game over and into the recycling it goes. If not, I may take a second look. A second look is an exceedingly rare event.