Medical journals keep financial connections hidden

Readers are unaware of potential bias in medical journals because the publications often fail to reveal financial connections between authors and the medical device industry, according to a study from The Archives of Internal Medicine. Duff Wilson writes about the hidden conflicts of interest in the New York Times:

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.

Of the total amount paid to consultants by five medical device companies, $114 million went to 41 doctors, the study said, of whom 32 wrote or were co-authors on orthopedic journal articles the next year.”

Keeping this information from patients prevents them from receiving the type of transparency they deserve. They shouldn’t have to worry if their doctor is choosing the best medical devices without being influenced by payoffs from the medical device industry.

Many of the journals said they plan to increase their standards in the future, according to the New York Times. But with each journal determining its own disclosure rules, the system remains biased and broken.