Numerous physicians have failed to disclose their financial ties to pharmaceutical and healthcare companies when publishing in medical journals, the New York Times and ProPublica report. They add that the instructions given to authors by journals can be confusing and that the journals often don't check the disclosure they are given.
"The system is broken," Mehraneh Dorna Jafari from University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine tells the Times and ProPublica. "The journals aren't checking and the rules are different for every single thing."
The Times and ProPublica note, for instance, that Howard Burris, the American Society of Clinical Oncology president-elect, has disclosed no conflicts of interest in some 50 recent journal articles. However, the Times and ProPublica say drug companies have paid Sarah Cannon Research Institute, where Burris works, $114,000 for consulting and speaking and nearly $8 million for his research in the years Burris made those disclosures. Sarah Cannon defended Burris as the payments was made to it rather than to him, they say, noting that journals like the New England Journal of Medicine do require the disclosure of such payments. Burris has now submitted updated disclosure, they add.
All together, the Times and ProPublica say that their findings show that little has changed in disclosures in the nearly 10 years since an Institute of Medicine report suggested greater transparency.