LONDON - Physicians from around the world have urged the publisher of the Lancet medical journal to cut its links to weapons sales, calling on the editors to find another publisher if Reed Elsevier refuses to stop hosting arms fairs.
The doctors made their appeal in the latest edition of the Lancet, released Friday.
Editors at the Lancet responded by backing the doctors, calling the situation "bizarre and untenable." They wrote that - in the interest of health - they might have to consider an "organized campaign" against their publisher.
"The Lancet is one of the most respected international medical journals and should not be linked to an industry involved in weapons designed to cause physical harm and death," wrote Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians, and Michael Pelly, the association's international adviser.
Some scientists have called for a boycott of journals published by Reed Elsevier Group, P.L.C. Editors at the British Medical Journal have appealed to researchers to stop sending certain studies to the Lancet and other Reed Elsevier titles.
On Friday, the Lancet published three pages of protest letters from leading doctors and organizations, including the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Doctors for Iraq, and the People's Health Movement, a public-health watchdog.
Reed Elsevier said it supported the Lancet editors' right to free speech but had no plans to stop its involvement with arms fairs.
The Lancet learned of its publisher's involvement in the arms industry in 2005. Supported by Britain's Ministry of Defense, Reed Elsevier hosts arms fairs around the world that have showcased weapons - including a 1,100-pound cluster bomb, one of the deadliest known bombs.