Financial links to drug use guidelines

Many of the researchers and doctors who write the rules on prescribing drugs have financial connections to the manufacturers, according to an investigation by the leading journal Nature. More than one-third of authors declared that they had financial links to drug companies and more than 70% of clinical panels are affected. In one case, every member of a panel writing the guidelines for a treatment for anaemia for HIV patients had been paid by the drug's manufacturer. "The practice stinks," says Drummond Rennie, deputy editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Although such links have been strongly criticised, the bodies which produce the guidelines counter that there simply aren't enough experts without potential conflicts of interest. The American Diabetes Association estimates that three-quarters of the members eligible to write clinical guidelines have conflicts of interest.

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