Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ties that bind between firms, US heart experts

Half of the experts involved in writing recent treatment guidelines for heart patients reported a conflict of interest, U.S. researchers said on Monday, raising worries about whose interests are being served. Even though the experts are disclosing their ties to companies that produce heart drugs and devices, the phenomenon is important because the guidelines they produce are used to help train new doctors, thus can have long-lasting impact on the way patients are treated. "Because they are so important, the process for producing them is also important. They need to be above suspicion," said Dr. James Kirkpatrick of the University of Pennsylvania, who worked on the study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Of the nearly 500 people studied, 56 percent reported a conflict of interest.

This report is among the first to look at the issue of conflicts among experts who write clinical practice guidelines.Kirkpatrick and colleagues analyzed financial disclosures listed in the 17 most recent guidelines from the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association through 2008.

Bonnie - we reported on this every time they came out with new cholesterol guidelines. The most egregious issue was the continual reduction of what they considered normal cholesterol levels, paving the way for most of the US adult population to be prescribed statins. Many of the experts putting together the guidelines had some kind of financial tie to statin manufacturers.

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