Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Seven Ways Medical Conflicts of Interest Are Disguised

From a November 22, 2010 blog item by Martha Rosenberg

Still, disclosure is tricky for medical journals whose lifeblood is often drug ads and reprints of articles for drug companies to pass out to physicians. Here are some of the ways conflicts of interest are finessed. 

Omnibus Disclosure. All of a study’s authors are listed with all the pharma links in one block of solid type. Who goes with whom? You’ll never know, but the author with no links sure isn’t happy about shared guilt. 

Initials. “R.L.T. has consulted for Merck” is set in 8-point type at the end of the article. Will readers return to the study’s start, five pages ago, where there are eight authors, four with first names that begin with R? 

Disclosures You Have to Work For. COIs of CME faculty are often given online, but the information is tucked away in a pull-down, scroll menu. It is user-unfriendly—like the drug side effects found on the scrolling ads on the same site. 

One Disclosure Is Enough. When a previous article is cited in journal letters sections, the author disclosures are said to “be found with the original article.” Surely you have that issue, published four months ago, on your desk. 

Protective Coloring. Disclosures of drug company links are embedded between government grants and charitable foundations. Government grants and charitable foundations are not conflicts of interest. 

Paying Customers Only. Twenty million citations of medical literature appear on the U.S. National Library of Medicine website. Many have authors’ institutions and e-mails. But do the abstracts show COIs? Not unless you’re a paid subscriber. Password please. 

Paying Customers Only, Even When You Are Reading a Hard Copy. In hard copies of the Aug. 5 New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the disclosures of authors of “Suicide-Related Events in Patients Treated with Antiepileptic Drugs” are absent and said to be found with the “full text” of the article at 

November 29, 2010 - Posted by | Biomedical Research Resources, Librarian Resources | , , ,

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