Medical news website retracts pro-pharma op-ed after author revealed to be in Big Pharma’s pocket

The medical news website STATnews.com was forced to retract an op-ed after a rival site revealed that the physician behind the post just happened to have taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from pharmaceutical companies.

The original post, titled “How pharma sales reps help me be a more up-to-date doctor,” was published on September 1 and retracted on Thursday. In its place was an editor’s note apologizing to readers and writing “[the piece] did not meet our standards.” The site claims that Dr. Robert Yapundich, who authored the op-ed, did not not disclose his ties with pharmaceutical companies. Health News Review uncovered $300,000 in payouts to the physician from manufacturers between 2013 to 2016.

Yapundich told Health News Review that he didn’t even write the post and that it was provided to him by the Alliance for Patient’s Access. The group behind the post is supported financially by over 30 pharmaceutical companies, including big names like Astra Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

STAT announced their retraction in a Thursday tweet, but it’s still likely to hurt their credibility. The website, which is owned by the same parent company as The Boston Globe, has quickly risen in the niche realm of medical journalism with offices in Los Angeles and Washington D.C.. Alexa.com tracks it as the 5,342th most popular website in the United States. The storied New England Journal of Medicine rings in at 3841st.