Piper BJ, Telku HM, Lambert DA (2015) A Quantitative Analysis of Undisclosed Conflicts of Interest in Pharmacology Textbooks. PLoS ONE 10(7): e0133261. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0133261
Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest (CoI) is a standard practice for many biomedical journals but not for educational materials. The goal of this investigation was to determine whether the authors of pharmacology textbooks have undisclosed financial CoIs and to identify author characteristics associated with CoIs.
Methods and Findings
The presence of potential CoIs was evaluated by submitting author names (N = 403; 36.3% female) to a patent database (Google Scholar) as well as a database that reports on the compensation ($USD) received from 15 pharmaceutical companies (ProPublica’s Dollars for Docs). All publications (N = 410) of the ten highest compensated authors from 2009 to 2013 and indexed in Pubmed were also examined for disclosure of additional companies that the authors received research support, consulted, or served on speaker’s bureaus. A total of 134 patents had been awarded (Maximum = 18/author) to textbook authors. Relative to DiPiro’s Pharmacotherapy: A Pathophysiologic Approach, contributors to Goodman and Gilman’s Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics and Katzung’s Basic and Clinical Pharmacology were more frequently patent holders (OR = 6.45, P < .0005). Female authors were less likely than males to have > 1 patent (OR = 0.15, P < .0005). A total of $2,411,080 USD (28.3% for speaking, 27.0% for consulting, and 23.9% for research), was received by 53 authors (Range = $299 to $310,000/author). Highly compensated authors were from multiple fields including oncology, psychiatry, neurology, and urology. The maximum number of additional companies, not currently indexed in the Dollars for Docs database, for which an author had potential CoIs was 73.
Financial CoIs are common among the authors of pharmacology and pharmacotherapy textbooks. Full transparency of potential CoIs, particularly patents, should become standard procedure for future editions of educational materials in pharmacology.
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