Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Conflict Over Conflicts of Interest

According to an article in the Boston Globe, the American Society of Hypertension has canceled a panel of experts on conflicts of interest at its upcoming meeting (May 19-22, 2007 in Chicago).

"[former New England Journal of Medicine editor Dr. Marcia Angell] Angell, [Dr.Jerry Avorn, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital physician and Harvard Medical School professor] Avorn, and [Dr. Jerome Kassirer, a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine] Kassirer were invited to take part in the panel about conflicts of interest by Jean E. Sealey, a researcher and former president-elect of the American Society of Hypertension. Sealey has said the drug industry wields too much influence over the society’s activities through its financial contributions to the group and by paying for honoraria, speakers fees, grants, and research contracts with individual doctors . . .

"The group said in a statement that it sent Sealey’s panel proposal to its continuing medical education review committee, which determined Sealey’s plan to limit the panel to three prominent drug industry critics lacked balance. It suggested adding a Food and Drug Administration official to the roster, but Sealey refused."

The Capsules blog, published by Medical Meetings magazine, called this article to my attention. In addition, Capsules has blogged about COI problems at the American Society of Hypertension two other times, here and here.

Given ASH's continuing COI problems, perhaps it's the entire meeting--and not just that panel--that lacks balance. In my view, the panel of drug industry critics was providing needed balance.

Update: Roy M. Poses, MD, has some additional things to say about this on his Health Renewal Blog.


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