Most Serving New Guideline Panels Have Serious Conflict of Interests! What Does This Mean for the Patient?

John Fisher
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Stopping Medical Injustice
A study just published in the British Medical Journal found that there is a growing problem with doctors and researchers who help to make guidelines for patient care that have strong financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry. The study particularly looked at fourteen sets of guidelines from the United States and Canadian health care organizations in evaluating this issue and was shocked by the findings.

The finding denotes that eighty-three percent (83%) of panel members in Canadian specialty organizations have industry ties to the pharmaceutical company. And in the United States, fifty-eight percent (58%) of the panel members had the same kind of times.

 

These ties were particularly the strongest relating to diabetes and high cholesterol medications.

 

The lead researcher remarked that "[t]he concern is that compensation by the industry on some of these panels can pose a potential risk of industry influence on the guideline recommendations." She continued that "[g]uidelines serve to standardize care and inform evidence-based practice and ultimately to protect patients. Their freedom from bias is very important."

 

Some have tried to defend this study that it is impossible for the panel members to not have any ties because they are very active, and big name individuals in our health care system-of course they will have had some ties!

 

But that does not satisfy me, particularly because a few weeks ago I discussed how OB-GYN guidelines are mostly done through expert opinion as opposed to empirical data. Does this mean that such experts are just giving their opinion in what is best for their wallets? I recognize there are checks and balances here with the Institute of Medicine who publishes recommendations on how organizations should manage and combat conflicts of interests. However, this study took place over a ten year span-what happened there that more than half were missed?

 

I think this is a serious problem, and the legislature has clearly recognized that with the anti-kickback and stark laws they have vigorously enforced. But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at jfisher@fishermalpracticelaw.com . You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.

 

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