Physicians underreport conflicts of interest from devicemakers, study suggests

Physicians don't always disclose relevant payments from medical device vendors, even when it's relevant to their research, according to a study published in JAMA Surgery.

Using 2015 general payments data from the Open Payments Database, researchers from UC Irvine School of Medicine's department of surgery identified 100 physicians who received the highest compensation from 10 popular surgical and medical device manufacturers. For each of the 100 physicians, the researchers conducted a PubMed search of articles they published during 2016.

The 100 physicians included in the study were paid a total of $12,446,969 and published an estimated 412 articles. The median payment for the physicians was $95,993 and the mean number of articles the physicians published was four.

The study authors determined 55 percent of the articles were related to medical device vendors the authors had received payments from, yet only 37 percent of these articles included a disclosure of a potential conflict of interest. "A high level of inconsistency was found between self-declared [conflict of interest] and the [Open Payments Database] among the physicians receiving the highest industry payments," the study authors wrote.

To address this issue, the study authors suggested journals implement a full disclosure policy for all articles.

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