Report: Prominent medical textbook authors fail to disclose $11M+ in payments from industry groups

Researchers from the Scranton, Pa.-based Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine discovered the authors of "Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine," a prominent textbook hailed by some as "the most recognized book in all of medicine," failed to disclose to readers the more than $11 million they received from various drug and medical device companies, according to a report by STAT News.

The researchers, led by Brian Piper, PhD, an assistant professor of neuroscience in the basic sciences department at the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, discovered the authors of several leading medical textbooks failed to disclose the financial interests they maintained in the subject matter, as well as payments they received from various medical organizations.

The authors of "Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine," in particular, received more than $11 million between 2009 and 2013, and failed to disclose any of those funds to readers, according to the researchers' study, published in the journal AJOB Empirical Bioethics. One physician author of the text reportedly received $870,000 in funding, including for research, the report states.

While scientists and researchers who publish their work in scientific or medical journals must adhere to a set of guidelines created by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors requiring them to disclose any conflicts of interest, the authors of textbooks are not subject to such regulations, according to STAT News.

"Sadly, after six years doing these types of studies, we were not surprised by these findings," Dr. Piper told STAT News. "However, we continue to be surprised that the publishers and authors of medical textbooks do not have the same transparency standards about conflicts of interest that have become widely accepted for clinical trials and other primary sources."

The researchers recommend textbook publishers adhere to the same conflict of interest disclosure standards medical journals follow to ensure readers are aware of the authors' potential financial or other interest in the subject matter, according to the report.

To access the STAT News report, click here.

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