19 Mar Cannabidiol: Conflicts of Interest Among Authors of Published CBD Articles
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Joshua D. Wallach, MS, PhD
Assistant Professor of Epidemiology (Environmental Health Sciences)
Yale School of Public Health
New Haven, CT
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Over the past few years, there has been growing interest in the potential health benefits of cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical compound in cannabis. Although only one CBD-derived prescription drug has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of epilepsy, I recently started seeing products containing CBD advertised and sold across the US (e.g. CBD in foods, beverages, dietary supplements, and cosmetics). I noticed that many of these products were being marketed with unproven claims to prevent, cure, and treat various conditions, and became interested in learning more about the research supporting the use of CBD, the potential for misleading claims, and impact that the CBD-industry may be having on research that is being generated and disseminated to the public.
Research funding sources and other author conflicts of interests (e.g. consulting fees, honoraria, travel expenses) can influence the way that research is designed, conducted, and reported. Previous studies have consistently demonstrated associations between authors’ conflicts of interest and proindustry conclusions in clinical research.
Given the growing number of companies invested in CBD’s commercial success, we decided to analyze the disclosed funding sources, conflicts of interest statements, author employment details, and CBD-related conclusions in a large sample of published articles on the characteristics, use, and therapeutic effects of cannabidiol.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: Among 417 articles discussing CBD (published between 2014 and 2019), we found that fewer than one-quarter were for human studies. While one-third of all 417 articles had any CBD-related funding, disclosed any CBD-related conflicts of interest, or included an author employed by the CBD industry, the rate was much higher among studies containing human subjects (approximately two-thirds). Overall, we found that more articles with CBD-related funding, conflicts, or author employment had conclusions that were supportive of CBD than those without.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Given the impact that the cannabidiol-industry may be having on cannabidiol-related research, our findings suggest the importance of critically evaluating funding sources, potential conflicts, and health-related claims reported in cannabidiol studies.
There is only one CBD-derived prescription drug approved by the FDA (for epilepsy), and that little is known about the efficacy for other conditions and the long-term safety of cannabidiol.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: Ms. Emma Deary, the first author of this manuscript, received funding from the National-Institute of Health-funded Summer Research Experience in Environmental Health (SREEH) Program at the Yale School of Public Health. In the past 36 months, I have received support, outside of the scope of this research, from the Collaboration for Research Integrity and Transparency from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and through the Center for Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation (CERSI) at Yale University and the Mayo Clinic (U01FD005938). In the past 36 months, Dr. Joseph Ross received research support, outside of the scope of this research, through Yale from Johnson and Johnson to develop methods of clinical trial data sharing, from Medtronic, Inc. and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop methods for postmarket surveillance of medical devices (U01FD004585), from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to develop and maintain performance measures that are used for public reporting, from the FDA to establish a Center for Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation (CERSI) at Yale University and the Mayo Clinic (U01FD005938), from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association to better understand medical technology evaluation, from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (R01HS022882), and from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. V.V. received research support through the National Institutes of Health. Ms. Kate Nyhan has no disclosures.
Conflicts of Interest Among Authors of Published Cannabidiol Articles, 2014–2019
Emma C. Deary; Joseph S. Ross, MD, MHS; Kate Nyhan, MLS; Joshua D. Wallach, MS, PhD
Published: Ann Intern Med. 2020.
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