Last week, Dr. Michael Greger of Nutritionfacts.org shared some interesting information on conflicts of interest in medical research.
- “Why does the funding source matter? Every single one of eight reviews, covering over a thousand studies, found that research funded by industry is more likely to make conclusions that are favorable to industry. For example, why do some review articles on the health effects of secondhand smoke reach different conclusions than others? The only factor was whether an author was affiliated with the tobacco industry.”
- “A law was passed in Denmark requiring physicians to register any time they worked with industry, which allowed researchers to cross-reference the studies they published to see how honest they were. And 48% of the time, the conflicts of interest were not disclosed, reinforcing the perception that physicians simply don’t take conflict of interest seriously—or at least Danish physicians.”
- “What about the U.S.? We didn’t know, until a study was published. Historically, there’s been no means of confirmation or verification when an American doctor said they had no conflict of interest. But then, in 2007, hip and knee replacement companies were forced to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in fines for giving orthopedic surgeons illegal kickbacks. Many orthopedic surgeons made decisions predicated on how much money they could make, choosing which device to implant by going to the highest bidder. “We expect doctors to make decisions based on what is in the best interests of their patients,” said the Department of Justice, “not the best interests of their bank accounts.”
- “In 2009, the long-time editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine wrote a scathing piece on drug companies and doctors who failed to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars from drug companies like GlaxoSmithKline, which has been fined literally billions of dollars for things like bribes and suppressing data. When they got results that were commercially unacceptable, they just buried them.”