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Many on Medical Guideline Panels Have Conflicts of Interest: Study
Date:10/12/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Oct. 11 (HealthDay News) -- More than half of panel members who gather to write clinical practice guidelines on diabetes and high cholesterol have conflicts of interest, new research suggests.

"The concern is that compensation by industry on some of these panels can pose a potential risk of industry influence on the guideline recommendations," said Dr. Jennifer Neuman, lead author of a paper published online Oct. 11 in the BMJ.

Clinical practice guidelines are meant to direct health care professionals on how to best care for patients.

In the United States and Canada, most organizations (including nonprofit and governmental bodies) have their own protocol for divulging conflicts of interest.

And recently, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published recommendations on how organizations should manage conflicts of interest when drawing up guidelines. Among other things, the institute advocated excluding individuals with financial ties to the drug industry.

The authors of this paper looked at conflicts of interest, both reported and unreported, among members of 14 different guideline panels in the United States and Canada over the past decade. They focused on two categories only: high cholesterol and diabetes, which account for a lion's share of drug expenditures.

Organizations included the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).

Five of the organizations did not require conflict-of-interest disclosures from panel members, the investigators found.

Among a total of 288 panel members, conflicts of interest were found among 52 percent, overall.

And 11 percent of those who claimed no conflicts actually did have conflicts, though, to be fair, Neuman said, most fell within the range of their particular organization's cut-off point for declaration, albeit not wi
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