Journals May Not Reveal Doctor/firm Links

NEW YORK, Sept. 13 (UPI) — Using company records to check physician disclosure information, U.S. researchers find nearly half of surgeons fail to disclose conflicts in published papers.

Senior author David Rothman, president of the Institute on Medicine as a Profession, a think tank at the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons in New York City, and colleagues say it appears journal editors do not check the many databases available and may rely on the honor system expecting a researcher to disclose all conflicts.

“The findings raise troubling questions about undisclosed payments or royalties and other fees from medical device companies that could lead to biased scientific conclusions,” Rothman said in a statement.

The researchers compared 2007 physician payment information from five orthopedic device companies — Biomet, DePuy Orthopedics, Smith & Nephew, Stryker and Zimmer — with disclosure of company payments in journal articles. These five companies made a total of 1,654 payments that amounted to $248 million in 2007 for consulting, honoraria or other payments for services.

The analysis also demonstrated that payments to 41 orthopedic surgeons ranged from about $1 million to a high of $8.8 million — representing 62 percent of all company expenditures, the study says.

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