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Conflicts of Interest Abound in Cardiology Guidelines

Over half of those involved in guideline writing and reviewing disclose conflicts of interest

TUESDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- Conflicts of interest (COIs) are prevalent in cardiology clinical practice guidelines, but there is still a substantial number of experienced expert guideline writers and reviewers without COIs, according to a study published in the March 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Todd B. Mendelson, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues investigated the prevalence of COIs in the 17 most recent guidelines from the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association. They used the disclosure lists to catalogue COIs for each participant as well as the companies and institutions disclosed in the guidelines. The researchers used the term "episode" to describe the participation of one person in one guideline.

The researchers found that 56 percent of the 498 individuals involved in the guidelines reported a COI. Of the 651 episodes, 56 percent involved a COI. Most commonly, the COI was a consultant or a member of an advisory board. The number of COIs varied widely among guidelines, from 13 to 87 percent, as did the number of companies per guideline, from two to 242. The company reported most frequently was disclosed in seven of the 17 guidelines. The number of episodes an individual was involved in was significantly linked to the occurrence and number of disclosures.

"Although restricting participation may prevent some qualified individuals from serving in the guidelines production process, we found that a large percentage of individuals with guidelines experience reported no disclosures, suggesting there is a substantial pool of potential guideline writers and reviewers without COIs," the authors write.

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