Payments to these 41 physicians ranged from $1.04 million to $8.86 million, and totaled $114 million or 62% of the total funds disbursed by the five devicemakers, the report said. Among these doctors, 32 of them combined for 151 articles published during the study period, with 95 considered “related” to the subject of their industry payment.
Articles discussing hip or knee implants were considered “directly related”; articles on joint repair that focused on techniques or procedures were considered “indirectly related”; and articles that didn't focus on hip or knee repair were considered unrelated. Researchers identified 95 related articles, of which, only 44 (46%) disclosed the name of the company that had paid the author at least $1 million in 2007. Seven of these articles noted that the authors' payments from industry exceeded $10,000.
Disclosure was inconsistent for the 27 authors whose names appeared in more than one article. The report said that four authors consistently mentioned the names of companies they received payment from, 14 were inconsistent, and nine never mentioned company payments.
“It is likely that both journals and authors contribute to the lack of full transparency in published articles,” the researchers concluded. “It is evident, however, that whatever the reasons, the current system does not fully inform readers of substantial payments to authors from industry.”
In an article published last October in the New England Journal of Medicine, it was found that conflicts of interest were not disclosed for 28.8% of doctors participating in the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 2008 annual meeting.