Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Matthew Herper: "If the Cash Were Handed Out in Broad Daylight, It Would Be a Lot Less Likely to Look Like a Bribe"

Forbes published a proposal by Matthew Herper for better disclosure of conflicts of interest affecting US Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA) expert panels.
He noted that "from breast implants to pain pills, the perception that top US medical experts have been paid off by drug and medical device companies is tarnishing debates that should be about science and patient safety."
So, "instead of telling us whom they work for, maybe medical experts should consider disclosing exactly how much they're being paid." Thus, "If the cash were handed out in broad daylight, it would be a lot less likely to look like a bribe."
Of course, as others have noted, I think that if the FDA looked, they could find at least some experts in the ranks of generalists and primary care physicians, and of statisticians and other methodologists, who could leaven the sub-specialist make-up of their panels, and are unlikely to have the sort of major financial relationships with drug and device companies that may "look like a bribe." But there is no argument that once again "sunlight is the best disinfectent."

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