Some reporters and producers argue that they can't be expected to ask every source whether he or she gets money from the drug industry. But there are obvious first steps to take. A list of academic researchers who are known to have financial ties to the drug and medical-device industries is available through the Center for Science in the Public Interest. (Yes, the name is a lot like the Astroturf group we mentioned earlier—coincidence?) To be fair, the list is inevitably incomplete, and Astroturf groups and academics with undeclared financial ties can make it difficult to ferret out their financial conflicts.
In hopes of making reporters' jobs a little easier, we've created for journalists an international list of prestigious and independent medical experts who declare they have no financial ties to drug and device manufacturers for at least the past five years. We have nearly 100 experts from a wide array of disciplines. E-mail us at Brownlee.Lenzer@gmail.com, and we'll be happy to name names.
Correction, May 9, 2008: After this piece posted, Slate posted a correction saying that the piece had incorrectly stated that The Infinite Mind is carried on National Public Radio, rather than public radio stations. We now understand from NPR's ombudsman, Alicia Shepard, that it was the correction that was wrong. In fact, NPR has a contractual relationship with The Infinite Mind to run the show on two Sirius channels. The show also runs on NPR member stations. Return to the corrected sentence.)