10:51 AM

More than one-third of relevant dollars received by ACR guideline authors go undisclosed

Healio Rheumatology highlights the perspective of HSS rheumatologist Susan M. Goodman, MD, on study findings published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, which found nearly 35 percent of relevant industry payments to U.S.-based authors of American College of Rheumatology (ACR) clinical practice guidelines remain undisclosed.

Dr. Goodman wrote, “The ACR agrees with the article that guideline development teams ideally should be comprised mainly of individuals without conflicts of interest related to the paper’s topic, including the principal investigators and literature review leaders, and we actively seek out experts who meet these criteria. However, we have found the small size of our specialty creates a scenario where forming groups with the necessary expertise to produce a guideline with face validity for our community sometimes requires involving individuals with conflicts of interests (COI), frequently being respected leaders in the investigation of the drug or disease state.” Dr. Goodman continued, “We also require that project teams publish an affected companies list for each guideline with the project plan on the ACR website, though we acknowledge the ACR is not alerted to all industry activities that might pose COI, so it can only serve as a guide to trigger individuals’ thinking about the relationships they should disclose.” Additionally, she cited, “Our [HSS] internal analysis also agreed with the authors’ conclusion that some individuals’ disclosures do not match from one source to another, e.g., journal vs. CMS Open Payments Database (OPD). We found more than one reason for this – but primarily that the time periods being examined usually differ and that a significant percentage of individuals say the publicly reported information is inaccurate. Many have left the report uncorrected either because they were unaware of it, discovered errors too late to appeal for a correction or felt the appeals process was too cumbersome to be worth the effort.”

Dr. Goodman concluded, “Because we feel continual emphasis on this point is beneficial, ACR leadership decided in 2019 to update our polices to require a cross-reference of author disclosures against the OPD. While this will not affect the guidelines discussed in the article, we hope this future step will help individuals be more aware of any errors in their public listings in time to make an appeal.”

Read the article at Healio.com.