Despite explicit requirements, a number of speakers at medical meetings do not disclose financial conflicts of interest, a study has found.
“Currently, disclosures by physicians are largely self-reported, but there is reason to suspect that this may change in the near future” pending legislation, wrote Dr. Kanu Okike of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital Boston, and colleagues.
The authors analyzed payments made to physicians in 2007 by five makers of total hip and knee prostheses that together account for nearly 95% of the market (N. Engl. J. Med. 2009;361:1466–74). They compared payments with conflict-of-interest disclosures by physicians who presented or served as board/committee members at the 2008 annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
In all, 1,347 payments were made to 1,162 physicians. Overall, 166 physicians received payments from multiple companies, and 282 payments exceeded $100,000. Nearly one-fourth of the payments (344) were made to presenters or board/committee members at the AAOS meeting. Payment was directly related to the presentation topic in 70% of cases.
The overall disclosure rate for the payments was 71%, including 79% for directly related, 50% for indirectly related, and 49% for unrelated payments. Thirty-six respondents who did not disclose payments cited unrelated topics among their reasons.
The authors cited the high nondisclosure rate as most notable “despite instructions directing each participant to make a disclosure 'if he or she has received something of value from a commercial company or institution, which relates directly or indirectly to the subject of their presentation.'” The 43 nondisclosed payments relating directly to the presentations totaled $4.3 million.
As for their own disclosures, coauthors Dr. Mininder Kocher, Dr. Charles Mehlman, and Dr. Mohit Bhandari have received grants from or consulted for a number of medical device firms, including several of those mentioned in the study. No other conflicts were reported.