Despite Sunshine Act, Conflicts of Interest in Medical Research Still Not Transparent

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Mehraneh Dorna Jafari, MD Assistant Professor Associate Program Director Colon and Rectal Surgery UC Irvine Health

Dr. Jafari

Mehraneh Dorna Jafari, MD
Assistant Professor
Associate Program Director
Colon and Rectal Surgery
UC Irvine Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Financial ties between medical and surgical device companies and clinicians are very common. It has been shown that up to 94% of physicians in the United States receive a form of benefit from an external company. When we evaluate published works, it is important to assess the integrity and academic credentials of the authors.

In 2013, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services established the Open Payments Database to house industrial payments’ information and increase transparency into the reporting of payments.

In our study, we found that in only 37% of their relevant 2016 publications were the Conflict of Interests declared by the authors.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: This study shows that a high level of inconsistency exists between self-declared Conflict of Interest and Open Payment Database among the highest compensated physicians by surgical and medical device companies. This can result in conflict of interest, bias in scientific studies and biased interpretation of study results.

Conflict of interest can potentially lead to favorable outcomes reporting and prejudice study reports. We need to address these inconsistencies to decrease the risk of potential bias in studies. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: We propose a single standardize disclosure process used for all scholarly activities and full disclosure of all financial ties whether relevant or not, would eliminate any inconsistencies in disclosures. In addition, using an unbiased third party to decide on relevancy of the disclosures, and implementing Conflict of Interest statements in article abstracts are the next steps that will help us get one step closer to full transparency. 

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Sunshine Act was a major step in achieving the higher transparency. However, there is still a long way towards the full transparency in the studies.

Sunshine Act was a major step in achieving the higher transparency. However, there is still a long way towards the full transparency in the studies. 

Citation:

Ziai K, Pigazzi A, Smith BR, et al. Association of Compensation From the Surgical and Medical Device Industry to Physicians and Self-declared Conflict of Interest. JAMA Surg. Published online August 15, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2018.2576

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