We expect scientists and doctors to be upfront about whether papers they publish may line their purses. But according to a recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine [Susan Chimonas, Zachary Frosch and David Rothman, http://bit.ly/d7YVfE], nearly half of surgeons who made at least a million dollars from orthopedic device companies did not reveal that fact in their publications.
The study authors searched a public database in which five manufacturing companies disclosed the amounts they paid consultants. The companies shelled out almost $250 million in 2007 for consulting, about 62 percent of which went to only 41 orthopedic surgeons. Each made more than a million dollars.
In 95 articles co-authored by these surgeons—most of which covered a device made by one of the five companies—fewer than half the articles had any financial disclosure. And none reported the size of the payments.
The report’s authors say that most journals go by the honor system. Journal editors expect physicians to disclose financial conflicts, and they don’t check. But now 15 drug and device companies put payments on their Web sites, and all are required to by 2013. The study authors say journals need to peruse these records so the public knows about any potential conflicts of interest.
[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]