Editor of the Icelandic Medical Journal fired for publishing a critical article of deCODE CEO Skip to content

Editor of the Icelandic Medical Journal fired for publishing a critical article of deCODE CEO

Earlier this week the Icelandic Medical Association and the Medical Association of Reykjavík yielded to demands made by deCODE CEO Kári Stefánsson to fire a 12 year veteran editor of the Icelandic Medical Journal, Vilhjálmur Rafnsson, reports news station NFS.

According to news reports Kári was unhappy with an article published by the Icelandic Medical Journal that criticized the decision to employ him to relieve at the Neurology Department of the National University Hospital last summer. The article stated that Kári had not practiced clinical medicine for almost a decade.

Kári had previously demanded an apology from the Icelandic Medical Association and the Medical Association of Reykjavík for publishing the article, he also wanted the article to be removed from the journal’s website, reports news station NFS.

The chairman of the Icelandic Medical Association, Sigurbjörn Sveinsson, would not confirm reports whether Vilhjálmur was fired, telling Icelandic media that the “editorial committee was changed”. He told Morgunbladid, that until the debacle that led to Vilhjálmur’s removal, he had no complaints about Vilhjálmur’s performance; “as a matter of fact his work was well regarded up until that time,” said Sigurbjörn.

The journal’s five member editorial board, some linked to deCODE through research projects, resigned last month claiming it had been “inappropriate” to publish the article.

A new committee has now been formed, Vilhjálmur pointed out that two of its members are closely associated with deCODE. Vilhjálmur said that it would not be strange if readers of the journal would question whether the editorial board members’ links to Kári are of such a nature that their evaluation of matters related to him are biased.

Vilhjálmur emphasized to Morgunbladid that the credibility, and the independence, of medical journals is key, something that the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) promotes. Vilhjálmur said that WAME is now looking into his dismissal.

The article that angered Kári also states that Kári holds a conditional license to practice medicine (he did not complete his residency – a compulsory three months service in the Icelandic country side).

In an editorial on Wednesday, Fréttabladid wrote that, “it is a disgrace for the boards of the Icelandic Medical Association and Medical Association of Reykjavík to have dismissed Professor Vilhjálmur Rafnsson from the position of editor of the Icelandic Medical Journal for the reason that the journal published an article critical of deCODE CEO Kári Stefánsson.”

The editorial continued to state that there is full reason to make public whether or not it is correct that Kári Stefánsson’s medical permit is conditional and whether the managers of the National University Hospital made a mistake when they engaged him to relieve at the hospital; “the Surgeon General of Iceland and the Medical Director of the hospital should look into the matter”. The editorial also called on members of the medical associations “not to put up in this matter.”

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