nytimes: Medical Industry Ties Often Undisclosed in Journals

By DUFF WILSON

Published: September 13, 2010

Twenty-five out of 32 highly paid consultants to medical device companies in 2007, or their publishers, failed to reveal the financial connections in journal articles the following year, according to a study released on Monday…

…“We found a massive, dramatic system failure,” said David J. Rothman, a professor and president of the Institute on Medicine as a Profession at Columbia University, who wrote the study with two other Columbia researchers, Susan Chimonas and Zachary Frosch…

…Dr. Marcia Angell, a former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine, who was not involved with the study, called it “an ingenious study, with unsurprising results.” She added, “It is one more indication of the widespread corruption of the medical profession by industry money.”

“The journals’ lax enforcement of disclosure policies probably reflects the fact that journals, too, are dependent on industry support,” Dr. Angell said in an e-mail to a reporter after reviewing the study…

…The study was based on disclosures by five medical device companies, mostly forced by government investigations…

…The research focused on doctors paid more than $1 million because that seemed a significant conflict-of-interest that should have been disclosed the next year, Professor Rothman said….

I am not sure how much pharmaceutical/device payments to doctors is public record; I think not very much, since the article says the data at the base of the study came from particular government investigations.

If it all were public record (which probably would only happen as a result of legislation), I’m imagining a product or application that would take a pmid or article citation, and look up what medical industry payments the authors had received.

Of course, medical schools which host medical libraries have the same possible conflicts of interest regarding funding; not sure if there would actually be a market for such a product from a vendor, or if any library would be willing to develop such an application.

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