Here is something that you should absolutely know…
According to a new study, the medical organizations responsible for releasing those all-powerful clinical guidelines that dictate mainstream medical treatment are often bankrolled by biomedical companies. And it appears they’re under no obligation to disclose these sketchy ties — so typically, they simply don’t.
Of course, the Institute of Medicine Committee on Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice urges transparency in all funding sources. But they don’t require it.
Which seems odd, considering being indebted to private companies when you’ve been entrusted with the public health is the very definition of “conflict of interest.”
Alas, recommendations are just that — recommendations. Which means they’re NOT required by law. So corruption stays in the shadows, where it can continue to poison the clinical guidelines conventional doctors use to make critical decisions about your medical care.
It doesn’t take a genius to see the problem here. This type of recommendation-generating power is concentrated among small groups of “experts.” Experts who require a great deal of financial resources to churn out their interpretation of the most up-to-date research, along with accompanying recommendations.
So when private companies fulfill that need for funding, let’s just say they buy themselves a heck of a lot of influence in the process. Why else would medical organizations go out of their way to keep these relationships quiet?
This recent study looked at websites from nearly 100 different medical organizations, both national and international. Altogether, these entities published close to 300 different sets of clinical guidelines in the year 2012 alone.
But get this: Surveys showed that, of the organizations that actually responded, more than 60 percent had received funding from the biomedical industry. Yet only one percent actually disclosed as much in their guidelines.
The rest didn’t say a word about their financial ties. Scary, when you consider most doctors follow these guidelines like moths to flames. In fact, conventional medicine penalizes and ostracizes practitioners (yours truly included) who think outside the box.
So what we have here is a horribly vicious — and very profitable — cycle. Drug companies and biotech companies fund the research that then becomes “evidence-based” medicine. Meanwhile, chances are, your doctor doesn’t even know about it.
And is the government concerned? It certainly doesn’t look that way.
Congress has launched a crusade against pharmaceutical companies “buying” doctors with free pens or dinners. But it still doesn’t legislate against this (frankly, much more dangerous) brand of bribery.
And it’s not like no one has raised an eyebrow about it, either. There have been calls for greater disclosure among guideline panel members for the last 10 years. And for good reason.
As you might expect, this study found that organizations with strong conflict-of-interest policies were less likely to endorse patented products (like brand name drugs) in their guidelines…and more likely to actively discourage using them.
Yet less than half of the organizations in this study even had policies expressly dealing with conflicts of interest. Among those, the majority disallowed any kind of industry partnering for guideline financing. They also prohibited both industry involvement in committee selection and allowing companies to review guidelines prior to publication.
But this study’s findings tell you all you need to know about how closely any of these policies are actually being followed. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it a million times more: Follow the money trail…and you’ll always find the truth in the end.