Conflicts of Interest Common in Medical Guidelines

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Ties to the pharmaceutical industry are very common among physicians creating medical guidelines, according to a Globe and Mail analysis.

This is a huge problem as the bias has the potential to skew the guidelines towards less efficient (or even unnecessary or harmful) treatments for patients.

The Globe’s analysis found that financial conflicts of interest are commonplace on guideline committees. Forty-six per cent of the panelists involved in the nine guideline documents reviewed by The Globe received some funding from companies that might benefit from a positive mention of their drugs. In three cases, more than 75 per cent of the panelists declared a conflict. In two, the guidelines were financed directly by the pharmaceutical industry.

It’s a bit like having a trial against a mafia boss, where 75 percent of the jury members admit to having recently taken money from the mafia. That would be a joke. And arguably medical guidelines may affect even more people’s lives than a court case. It’s ridiculous that it’s still considered even remotely acceptable for industry to pay the people who decide on the guidelines.

The Globe and Mail: The Pressure of Big Pharma

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4 Comments

  1. J. Lance De Foa, MD
    Curious the Globe didn't look at the Canadian Diabetes Association's (now known as Diabetes Canada) clinical practice guidelines. About 40% of the CDA's $51million funding in 2015 was from non-governmental nor charitable receiptable sources - likely two diabetic medication producers who they admitted each gave $400,000 or more. Yes, likely 10 times more.
  2. Roger
    Its completely shameful that literally hundreds of millions of lives are put at risk because of commercial interests. A shameful endorement of human nature. Who can we trust? What hope has the human species with this sort of behaviour ?
  3. Siegfried
    What's wrong with a conflict of interest as long as it doesn't affect the outcome? If you think they manipulated the data somehow you should point out how and where specifically. This bothers me because you feature many studies on your site that have industry funding. E.g. by the Atkins Foundation. If you were truly against any conflict of interest you should not use those.
  4. Chanah
    I looked up a doctor we know on the U.S. database. The year before disclosure rules came into effect he made over $1 million from pharmaceutical companies. After disclosure he cut way back on these so-called research payments. (It should be also pointed out that companies can track how much of what medicines doctors prescribe, and prod them to write more prescriptions if the doctor falls behind a quota.) If you check out Dr. Ben Goldacre's TED talk on how the industry manipulates trials you will see how small a role actual science plays in even basic FDA approval studies.

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