A significant part of medical research is currently funded directly by commercial companies. This type of funding carries the potential risk of biasing research findings in accordance with the financial interests of the funding entity.
In order to maintain the academic independence of medical research and its status in the eyes of the general public, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) published strict guidelines according to which researchers must avoid signing research contracts that include any limitation of their complete freedom in conducting the research.
According to the new guidelines, every researcher requesting to publish a study in a journal must declare that he had full access to all information gathered in the study; that the researcher’s ability to process the information collected independently was maintained; that the researcher had full freedom in writing and publishing the article even if the findings did not meet the expectations of the funding entity and that the researcher carries personal responsibility for the veracity of the information published. The head researcher is also required to detail the role, if at all, played by the funding entity in these procedures.
This declaration by the researcher concerning full academic freedom is now required on a routine basis for every manuscript submitted for publication, along with a declaration concerning possible conflicts of interest as specified above.
To prevent concealing medical information of a “negative” nature from the standpoint of the funding entity, journal editors decided that, as of July 2005, pre-registration of every clinical trial will be a prerequisite for its publication in the future. Registration will be conducted through a digital site and accessible to the public without a fee. The site will contain, among other things, information concerning the identity of the disease being researched, the essence of the treatment studied, research goals and scope and the identity of the commercial entity funding the study.
In September 2005 the Ministry of Health published a Director General circular specifying the guidelines for registering medical studies in a database.
Researchers must adhere to these guidelines.