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Policy Briefs

From the December ACP Observer, copyright 2004 by the American College of Physicians.

College weighs in on NIH plan for enhanced journal access

In a recent letter, the College commented on a proposal put forth by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to enhance public access to research information in scientific journals.

The letter, which was dated Nov. 16, was signed by ACP's Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer John Tooker, FACP, MBA, and sent to the NIH director. It said that the College agrees the public should have free access to studies paid for with federal dollars. However, the concept of enhanced public access will not work, the letter stated, unless the NIH amends its current proposal, which is to locate journal articles in a central repository, such as PubMed.

Such a central repository would create problems controlling corrected versions of an article, which could perhaps "compromise the integrity of the scientific record," the letter said. Maintaining a manuscript repository would also be expensive and perhaps divert funds from research grants.

To resolve those concerns, Dr. Tooker wrote that the College supports having electronic linkage from an online repository to an article's master copy on its publisher's Web site. It would be publishers' responsibility, the letter added, to ensure that any links from the NIH site function correctly.

The letter is online.

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College supports new WHO initiative on HIV/AIDS

ACP has endorsed a new World Health Organization (WHO) initiative that seeks to improve treatments for HIV/AIDS patients in developing countries. The proposal—which is called the "3 by 5" initiative—wants to provide 3 million infected patients worldwide with antiretroviral treatment by the end of 2005.

In a Nov. 2 letter, College President Charles K. Francis, FACP, applauded the WHO's focus on evidence-based interventions and its efforts to improve technical resources and expertise in countries affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

According to a WHO press release, the initiative will work to expand the number of trained health care workers in developing countries; establish distribution systems for antiretroviral drugs; create financing systems so patients won't have to impoverish themselves to get treatment; and create adequate local infrastructures to dispense health information.

The letter can be found online.

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