Pathologist alleges prestigious New England Journal of Medicine suppresses dissenting evidence in favor of $10 billion unnecessary cervical biopsy industry Complaint to Council of Science Editors says Journal protects special interest groups
February 15, 2010 - Trumbull, CT – Connecticut Pathologist Sin Hang Lee, MD, has filed a complaint with the international Council of Science Editors alleging the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine (Journal) is suppressing dissenting evidence in favor of a $10 billion “unnecessary cervical biopsy industry that protects special interest groups.”
Initially the Journal editor used “its focus, content, and interest” of the submission as the basis for not considering Dr. Lee’s manuscript for publication. After Dr. Lee pointed out that to convey the focus, content and interest of his submission to the readers is actually consistent with the Journal’s stated mission “to publish current, authoritative, and unbiased information about advances in medical research,” the Journal’s final rejection noted: “Due to the volume of submissions, we must decline over 92 percent of the manuscripts that we receive.”
“The reasoning of rejection as stated in the two editorial letters lacks consistency and is grossly disingenuous. Such practice is highly unusual among editors of natural science journals,” Dr. Lee complained in his letter sent to the Council of Science Editors.
Dr. Lee said the “atypical editorial practice in this incidence has raised the possibility that the Journal might be under pressure to protect certain groups with special interest in maintaining HPV assays as the triage of ambiguous Pap test results to colposcopic biopsies even when such triage leads to unnecessary cervical biopsies, while using ‘over use of Pap tests in young women’ as the scapegoat for the current practice of excessive unnecessary cervical biopsies.”
Dr. Lee also said that about six years ago, the Journal published a highly influential article in 2003 which stated “The commercially available Hybrid Capture II (Digene) high-risk HPV test includes all of the types we have classified as high-risk types…”, without informing the readers that at least three of the authors of that article received consulting fees from, or served on the advisory board of, Digene Corporation. The latter publication played a pivotal role in endorsing the 2003 American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists guidelines to promote Digene HPV assays as the triage of ambiguous cytology results, which in turn augmented the recent upsurge of excessive unnecessary colposcopic biopsies in the United States.
Dr. Sin Hang Lee is a full-time salaried hospital pathologist. He is also the president of HiFi DNA Tech, a company specializing in transferring the Sanger DNA sequencing technology to clinical laboratories to increase the specificity of HPV detection and genotyping.
Contact: Ken Warren, 203-891-9001