-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, Sept. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly half of U.S.
surgeons who received at least $1 million in payments from
companies that make orthopedic devices such as artificial joints
did not disclose their financial ties when they published articles
on such devices in medical journals, a new study has found.
This means that medical professionals and others who read the
articles aren't aware of conflicts of interest that could affect
patient care, explained the researchers at the Institute on
Medicine as a Profession (IMAP), a think tank at the Columbia
University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City.
"The findings raise troubling questions about undisclosed payments or royalties and other fees from medical device companies that could lead to biased scientific conclusions," study senior author David Rothman, president of IMAP, said in an institute news release.
Using public databases, he and his colleagues examined 2007
physician payment information from five orthopedic device makers
(Biomet, DePuy Orthopaedics, Smith & Nephew, Stryker, and
Zimmer) and found that they gave 1,654 payments totaling $248
million for consulting, honoraria and other payments for
The researchers also found that 62 percent of the $248 million
was given to 41 orthopedic surgeon researchers who received amounts
ranging from more than $1 million to $8.8 million.
Of the 95 journal articles published by those 41 highly paid
orthopedic consultants after they received their large payments --
nearly all of them about a medical device -- less than half
disclosed a financial tie between the author and orthopedic device
maker. None of the articles revealed the large amounts of industry
money received by the authors, the investigators found.
Consumers should be concerned by the findings, Rothman's team
noted in the report published online Sept. 13 in the journal
Archives of Internal Medicine.
"Patients have a real stake in transparency. You want to make sure that the surgeon is choosing the device that is best for you and that your doctor is not getting biased information," Rothman said in the news release.
"The next generation of physicians should know that every nickel they take from industry is going to be made public," he added.
Industry-funded medical research -- even when financial ties are
transparent --has come under increased scrutiny over the past few
A recent review of hundreds of clinical drug trials conducted
between 2000 and 2006, for example, found that studies sponsored by
the pharmaceutical industry were more likely to publish favorable
results than those with no financial interest in the findings.
In addition, a review of 150 recently published stories on
children's health found that industry-sponsored trials were at
greater risk of distortion than non-profit or government-sponsored
The U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has
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