Financial Ties of Principal Investigators Associated With Positive Outcomes Interview with:
Salomeh Keyhani MD
Associate professor of general internal medicine
San Francisco VA Medical Center and University of California
San Francisco, CA 94121, USA What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Randomized controlled trials are the foundation of the evidence base. We examined the prevalence of financial ties in randomized controlled trials and also examined the relationship of financial ties of principal investigators (PI) with trial outcome. We defined a financial tie as the direct compensation (e.g., consulting fees) of a PI by the drug manufacturer of interest. Although there have been past studies that have examined this relationship, many did not separate financial ties from funding source for the trial and many were focused on one specialty, journal, or type of drug.

This study identified a random sample of RCTs published in 2013 that were focused on assessing drug efficacy. Both the disclosure section of the paper and several online databases (Medline, Google, Propublica’s Dollars for Doctors, and the US Patent Office) were searched for evidence of financial ties. Principal investigators financial ties with industry were independently associated with positive study outcomes. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Financial ties among  principal investigators are prevalent in randomized controlled trials and are associated with positive trial outcomes. This suggests potential bias in the evidence base. We outline a few suggestions such as the publishing of datasets, and trial results (whether positive or negative) to maintain the credibility of the evidence base. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Examining the relationship between financial ties and trial outcomes in studies that are not funded by industry is an important direction to this research.

No disclosures are reported by the authors Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Financial ties of principal investigators and randomized controlled trial outcomes: cross sectional study
BMJ 2017; 356 doi: (Published 17 January 2017)Cite  BMJ 2017;356:i6770

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Last Updated on January 19, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD