Conflict of Interest Rampant in Medical Journals

No surprise to readers of this blog but a report today from Center for Science in the Public Interest shows some leading scientific and medical journals do not always enforce their conflict of interest policies with the authors of published studies. CSPI found that in some cases the journals did not disclose contributing authors' financial conflicts of interest even though the journals' own rules require such disclosures.

The most obvious conflicts were reported, such as when the research was funded by a company that employs the author. But the CSPI researchers found hidden conflicts in "the margins," in which there was no direct link, but the researcher stood to benefit from the same industry. One author of a study on heart disease, for instance, failed to reveal relationships with 20 companies that made cardiovascular drugs or devices.

The study also found the highest incidence of unreported conflicts of interests at JAMA, where six of 57 articles, or 11%, failed to disclose a financial conflict of interest. In most cases, the authors of the JAMA studies in question told CSPI that they had not disclosed the information to the journal editors. That is over one in ten that actually admitted to this. You can only imagine how high the real number is.

So one needs to be very careful when evaluating medical journal articles and take them with a grain of salt as there is a very real possiblity that the findings can be prejudiced by drug company interests.

Center for Science in the Public Interest July 12, 2004

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