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1.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-34634885

ABSTRACT

As evidence mounts that corporate actor engagement in United Nations (UN) policy-making processes leads to weaker and shallower public health commitments, greater attention is being paid to how to minimise undue interference and manage conflicts of interest (CoI). While we welcome efforts to develop normative guidance on managing such conflicts, we argue that there is the need to go further. In particular, we propose that an index be developed that would assess the health impacts of individual corporate actors, and those actors who fail to achieve a set benchmark would not have engagement privileges. We further propose the establishment of an independent panel of experts to advise on corporate actor engagement as well as on ambiguous and potentially health-harming commitments in text under negotiation in the UN. Recognising that the implementation of such measures will be contested, we recommend a number of practical steps to make their implementation more politically palatable.

3.
PLoS One ; 16(6): e0252551, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-34166396

ABSTRACT

Our objective was to examine conflicts of interest between the UK's health-focused All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) and the pharmaceutical industry between 2012 and 2018. APPGs are informal cross-party groups revolving around a particular topic run by and for Members of the UK's Houses of Commons and Lords. They facilitate engagement between parliamentarians and external organisations, disseminate knowledge, and generate debate through meetings, publications, and events. We identified APPGs focusing on physical or mental health, wellbeing, health care, or treatment and extracted details of their payments from external donors disclosed on the Register for All-Party Parliamentary Groups. We identified all donors which were pharmaceutical companies and pharmaceutical industry-funded patient organisations. We established that sixteen of 146 (11%) health-related APPGs had conflicts of interest indicated by reporting payments from thirty-five pharmaceutical companies worth £1,211,345.81 (16.6% of the £7,283,414.90 received by all health-related APPGs). Two APPGs (Health and Cancer) received more than half of the total value provided by drug companies. Fifty APPGs also had received payments from patient organisations with conflicts of interest, indicated by reporting 304 payments worth £986,054.94 from 57 (of 84) patient organisations which had received £27,883,556.3 from pharmaceutical companies across the same period. In total, drug companies and drug industry-funded patient organisations provided a combined total of £2,197,400.75 (30.2% of all funding received by health-related APPGs) and 468 (of 1,177-39.7%) payments to 58 (of 146-39.7%) health-related APPGs, with the APPG for Cancer receiving the most funding. In conclusion, we found evidence of conflicts of interests through APPGs receiving substantial income from pharmaceutical companies. Policy influence exerted by the pharmaceutical industry needs to be examined holistically, with an emphasis on relationships between actors potentially playing part in its lobbying campaigns. We also suggest ways of improving transparency of payment reporting by APPGs and pharmaceutical companies.


Subject(s)
Drug Industry/legislation & jurisprudence , Conflict of Interest/economics , Humans , Policy , United Kingdom
5.
Health Policy ; 125(7): 915-922, 2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-34006392

ABSTRACT

The European pharmaceutical industry uses the alleged efficacy of self-regulation to question the need for transparency laws similar to the US Physician Payment Sunshine Act. We conducted a comparative analysis of 20 large companies' payment disclosures in seven European countries in 2017-2019. The data was extracted as part of eurosfordocs.eu, a novel transparency project that scrapes and integrates publicly available databases and disclosures. Our analysis of EUR 735 million showed marked differences in country payment patterns. For example, payment totals per registered doctor were substantially larger in Spain and lowest in Sweden. There were significant country and company differences in individualized data completeness. Only 19% of totals were reported with recipient names in Germany, compared to Ireland (59%), the United Kingdom (60%), Italy (67%), Switzerland (73%), Sweden (79%) and Spain (100%), with little or no improvement over time. Payment data in Spain was particularly difficult to extract. Thus, in no country did self-regulation generate comprehensive individualized data allowing for building an accurate picture of financial relationships between the industry and healthcare professionals. We conclude that the cultures and policies of countries and companies create structural problems of data inaccessibility and incompleteness within the self-regulatory framework. Therefore, this study supports calls for a Europe-wide "Sunshine Act" to achieve real transparency of drug company payments.


Subject(s)
Conflict of Interest , Self-Control , Delivery of Health Care , Disclosure , Drug Industry , Europe , Germany , Humans , Ireland , Italy , Spain , Sweden , Switzerland , United Kingdom
6.
BMJ Open ; 11(2): e045140, 2021 02 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-33563626

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: To study how patient groups that accept pharmaceutical industry money perceive and manage the risk of undue influence from their sponsors. DESIGN: Empirical ethics approach using a qualitative interview study. SETTING: The Australian patient group sector. PARTICIPANTS: 27 participants from 23 patient groups, purposively recruited for diversity of group characteristics (degree of pharmaceutical industry funding, health focus, location) and participant role (staff, board members). ANALYSIS: Interview data were transcribed and read repeatedly to identify concepts and patterns in the data. These were grouped into conceptual categories that described and explained the findings. We used an inductive analytical approach to identify important themes and concepts in the data. RESULTS: Participants in this study described how the patient group sector receives pressure from pharmaceutical company funders to act in ways that prioritise company interests. Groups worked to try and protect their credibility and ability to act in ways of their own choosing using practical rules or 'lines in the sand' about industry funding activities. They were grouped around the dominant topics of: sponsor exclusivity, brand marketing, agenda setting, advocacy and content of group activities. Lines in the sand were largely experience-driven and ethically informed; they varied between groups. There was also variable transparency among groups about financial interactions with pharmaceutical companies. CONCLUSIONS: It is important to know about patient group practices around pharmaceutical industry funders as this allows public scrutiny about the adequacy of such practices. Inadequate strategies may mean that funders can influence patient groups activities in ways that do not necessarily prioritise the interests of members. We found that groups differed in their approach, with little independent external guidance to inform responses to commonly encountered types of influence. Inadequate transparency limits the ability of the public to make informed assessments about the risk of bias over the activities of groups that accept industry funding.


Subject(s)
Group Practice , Sand , Australia , Conflict of Interest , Drug Industry , Humans , Marketing
8.
PLoS One ; 15(12): e0243144, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-33326431

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: There is emerging evidence that food industry involvement in nutrition research may bias research findings and/or research agendas. However, the extent of food industry involvement in nutrition research has not been systematically explored. This study aimed to identify the extent of food industry involvement in peer-reviewed articles from a sample of leading nutrition-related journals, and to examine the extent to which findings from research involving the food industry support industry interests. METHODS: All original research articles published in 2018 in the top 10 most-cited nutrition- and dietetics-related journals were analysed. We evaluated the proportion of articles that disclosed involvement from the food industry, including through author affiliations, funding sources, declarations of interest or other acknowledgments. Principal research findings from articles with food industry involvement, and a random sample of articles without food industry involvement, were categorised according to the extent to which they supported relevant food industry interests. RESULTS: 196/1,461 (13.4%) articles reported food industry involvement. The extent of food industry involvement varied by journal, with The Journal of Nutrition (28.3%) having the highest and Paediatric Obesity (3.8%) having the lowest proportion of industry involvement. Processed food manufacturers were involved in the most articles (77/196, 39.3%). Of articles with food industry involvement, 55.6% reported findings favourable to relevant food industry interests, compared to 9.7% of articles without food industry involvement. CONCLUSION: Food industry involvement in peer-reviewed research in leading nutrition-related journals is commonplace. In line with previous literature, this study has shown that a greater proportion of peer-reviewed studies involving the food industry have results that favour relevant food industry interests than peer-reviewed studies without food industry involvement. Given the potential competing interests of the food industry, it is important to explore mechanisms that can safeguard the integrity and public relevance of nutrition research.


Subject(s)
Conflict of Interest , Food Industry , Nutritional Sciences , Periodicals as Topic , Food Industry/statistics & numerical data , Humans , Nutritional Sciences/ethics , Nutritional Sciences/statistics & numerical data , Peer Review , Periodicals as Topic/statistics & numerical data
9.
BMJ Open ; 10(9): e037351, 2020 09 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-32950962

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: To examine the under-reporting of pharmaceutical company payments to patient organisations by donors and recipients. DESIGN: Comparative descriptive analysis of payments disclosed on drug company and charity regulator websites. SETTING: UK. PARTICIPANTS: 87 donors (drug companies) and 425 recipients (patient organisations) reporting payments in 2012-2016. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Number and value of payments reported by donors and recipients; differences in reported payments from/to the same donors and recipients; payments reported in either dataset but not the other one; agreement between donor-recipient ties established by payments; overlap between donor and recipient lists and, respectively, industry and patient organisation data. RESULTS: Of 87 donors, 63 (72.4%) reported payments but 84 (96.6%) were mentioned by recipients. Although donors listed 425 recipients, only 200 (47.1%) reported payments. The number and value of payments reported by donors were 259.8% and 163.7% greater than those reported by recipients, respectively. The number of donors with matching payment numbers and values in both datasets were 3.4% and 0.0%, respectively; for recipients these figures were 7.8% and 1.9%. There were 24 and 3 donors missing from industry and patient organisation data during the entire study period, representing 38.1% and 3.6% of those in the respective datasets. The share of donor-recipient ties in which industry and patient organisation data agreed about donors and recipients was 38.9% and 68.4% in each dataset, respectively. Of 63 donors reporting payments, only 3 (4.8%) had their recipient lists fully overlapping with patient organisation data. Of 200 recipients reporting industry funding, 102 (51.0%) had their donor lists fully overlapping with industry data. CONCLUSIONS: Both donors and recipients under-reported payments. Existing donor and recipient disclosure systems cannot manage potential conflicts of interest associated with industry payments. Increased standardisation could limit the under-reporting by each side but only an integrated donor-recipient database could eliminate it.


Subject(s)
Conflict of Interest , Disclosure , Drug Industry , Humans , Organizations , United Kingdom
10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-32945636

ABSTRACT

With public health attention on the commercial determinants of health showing little sign of abatement, how to manage conflicts of interest (COI) in regulatory policy discussions with corporate actors responsible for these determinants is gaining critical traction. The contribution by Ralston et al explores how COI management has itself become a terrain of contestation in their analysis of submissions on a draft World Health Organization (WHO) tool to manage COI conflicts in development of nutrition policy. The authors identify two camps in conflict with one another: a corporate side emphasizing their individual good intents and contributions, and an non-governmental organization (NGO) side maintaining inherent structural conflicts that require careful proscribing. The study concludes that the draft tool does a reasonable job in ensuring COI are avoided and policy development sheltered from corporate self-interests, introducing novel improvements in global governance for health. At the same time, the tool appears to adhere to a belief that private economic (corporate) and public good (citizen) conflicts can indeed be managed. I question this assumption and posit that public health needs to be much bolder in its critique of the nature of power, influence, and self-interests that pervade and risk dominating our stakeholder models of global governance.

11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-32979894

ABSTRACT

The issue of public health and policy communities engaging with food sector companies has long caused tension and debate. Ralston and colleagues' article 'Towards Preventing and Managing Conflict of Interest in Nutrition Policy? An Analysis of Submissions to a Consultation on a Draft WHO Tool' further examines this issue. They found widespread food industry opposition, not just to the details of the World Health Organization (WHO) tool, but to the very idea of it. In this commentary we reflect on this finding and the arguments for and against interacting with the food industry during different stages of the policy process. While involving the food industry in certain aspects of the policy process without favouring their business goals may seem like an intractable problem, we believe there are opportunities for progress that do not compromise our values as public health professionals. We suggest three key steps to making progress.

12.
Int J Public Health ; 65(7): 1133-1145, 2020 Sep.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-32840634

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: The growing trend of for-profit organization (FPO)-funded university research is concerning because resultant potential conflicts of interest might lead to biases in methods, results, and interpretation. For public health academic programmes, receiving funds from FPOs whose products have negative health implications may be particularly problematic. METHODS: A cross-sectional survey assessed attitudes and practices of public health academics towards accepting funding from FPOs. The sampling frame included universities in five world regions offering a graduate degree in public health; 166 academics responded. Descriptive, bivariate, and logistic regression analyses were conducted. RESULTS: Over half of respondents were in favour of accepting funding from FPOs; attitudes differed by world region and gender but not by rank, contract status, % salary offset required, primary identity, or exposure to an ethics course. In the last 5 years, almost 20% of respondents had received funding from a FPO. Sixty per cent of respondents agreed that there was potential for bias in seven aspects of the research process, when funds were from FPOs. CONCLUSIONS: Globally, public health academics should increase dialogue around the potential harms of research and practice funded by FPOs.


Subject(s)
Biomedical Research/economics , Biomedical Research/trends , Financing, Organized/statistics & numerical data , Financing, Organized/trends , Public Health/economics , Research Personnel/psychology , Universities/economics , Adult , Biomedical Research/statistics & numerical data , Conflict of Interest/economics , Cross-Sectional Studies , Female , Forecasting , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Public Health/trends , Research Personnel/statistics & numerical data , Research Personnel/trends , Universities/trends
13.
PLoS One ; 15(7): e0236166, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-32706798

ABSTRACT

Recently, concerns have been raised over the potential impacts of commercial relationships on editorial practices in biomedical publishing. Specifically, it has been suggested that certain commercial relationships may make editors more open to publishing articles with author conflicts of interest (aCOI). Using a data set of 128,781 articles published in 159 journals, we evaluated the relationships among commercial publishing practices and reported author conflicts of interest. The 159 journals were grouped according to commercial biases (reprint services, advertising revenue, and ownership by a large commercial publishing firm). 30.6% (39,440) of articles were published in journals showing no evidence of evaluated commercial publishing relationships. 33.9% (43,630) were published in journals accepting advertising and reprint fees; 31.7% (40,887) in journals owned by large publishing firms; 1.2% (1,589) in journals accepting reprint fees only; and 2.5% (3,235) in journals accepting only advertising fees. Journals with commercial relationships were more likely to publish articles with aCOI (9.2% (92/1000) vs. 6.4% (64/1000), p = 0.024). In the multivariate analysis, only a journal's acceptance of reprint fees served as a significant predictor (OR = 2.81 at 95% CI, 1.5 to 8.6). Shared control estimation was used to evaluate the relationships between commercial publishing practices and aCOI frequency in total and by type. BCa-corrected mean difference effect sizes ranged from -1.0 to 6.1, and confirm findings indicating that accepting reprint fees may constitute the most significant commercial bias. The findings indicate that concerns over the influence of industry advertising in medical journals may be overstated, and that accepting fees for reprints may constitute the largest risk of bias for editorial decision-making.


Subject(s)
Biomedical Research , Conflict of Interest , Editorial Policies , Ownership , Publication Bias , Advertising , Humans
14.
J Med Ethics ; 2020 Jul 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-32703842

ABSTRACT

Sponsorship of medical conferences by the pharmaceutical industry has led to many ethical issues, especially in resource-poor developing countries. The core issue in these instances is to reduce or avoid conflicts of interests (COIs). COI is a set of circumstances that creates a risk that professional judgment or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by secondary interests. Disruption of social trust should also be considered. This deontological approach should be complemented by a consequentialist approach. Towards this, the concept of distal interests (DI) is introduced. DI lies beyond the immediately visible COIs and the consequences of immediate decisions. They are 'distal' in time or place: 'DI in time' means consequence of the decision in future scenarios, while 'DI in space' means those that impinge on other institutions or bodies. In judging the consequences, it is also necessary to consider the reality of the existing relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and organisers of conferences. In more developed countries, these relationships are governed by stricter regulations, adherence to codes of conduct by both parties and stronger institutional oversights. In contrast, developing countries such as Sri Lanka the regulatory environment is lax and the demarcation of interests between the pharmaceutical industry and the medical profession is considerably blurred. Therefore, establishing clear rules of engagement between the stakeholders should be considered as an attempt to clear the muddy waters. The paper proposes a set of guidelines to capture these approaches.

15.
Am J Law Med ; 46(2-3): 275-296, 2020 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-32659196

ABSTRACT

Corporate influence is one of the most pressing issues in public health. It cuts across many of our most intractable problems-from obesity to the opioid epidemic. Companies develop close relationships with public health agencies, research universities, academic medical centers, professional societies, and patient advocacy organizations-often funding medical research and public health interventions intended to address the very challenges these corporations are creating or exacerbating. How we view relationships with industry, including how these relationships are framed in ethical discourse, shapes our legal and policy responses to them. In recent years, fueled in part by the opioid epidemic, the ethical framing of industry relationships has begun to evolve in significant ways. But legal and policy responses have not yet caught up. In this article, I develop a temporal account of corporate influence, and legal and policy responses to corporate influence. This account clarifies the limitations and adverse effects of conflicts of interest disclosure, especially when implemented as the sole legal or policy response. Disclosure can illuminate corporate influence-but policymakers cannot and should not rely on disclosure to eliminate corporate influence or its effects. Nor should we allow disclosure to crowd out structural and systemic responses to corporate influence-including sequestration of and separation from private-sector entities.


Subject(s)
Biomedical Research/legislation & jurisprudence , Disclosure/legislation & jurisprudence , Ethics, Business , Policy Making , Public Health/legislation & jurisprudence , Conflict of Interest , Humans , Research Support as Topic/legislation & jurisprudence , United States
16.
BMJ Open ; 10(7): e034082, 2020 07 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-32690498

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: We identified mechanisms for addressing and/or managing the influence of corporations on public health policy, research and practice, as well as examples of where these mechanisms have been adopted from across the globe. DESIGN: We conducted a scoping review. We conducted searches in five databases on 4 June 2019. Twenty-eight relevant institutions and networks were contacted to identify additional mechanisms and examples. In addition, we identified mechanisms and examples from our collective experience working on the influence of corporations on public health policy, research and practice. SETTING: We identified mechanisms at the national, regional and global levels. RESULTS: Thirty-one documents were included in our review. Eight were peer-reviewed scientific articles. Nine discussed mechanisms to address and/or manage the influence of different types of industries; while other documents targeted specific industries. In total, we identified 49 mechanisms for addressing and/or managing the influence of corporations on public health policy, research and practice, and 43 of these were adopted at the national, regional or global level. We identified four main types of mechanisms: transparency; management of interactions with industry and of conflicts of interest; identification, monitoring and education about the practices of corporations and associated risks to public health; prohibition of interactions with industry. Mechanisms for governments (n=17) and academia (n=13) were most frequently identified, with fewer for the media and civil society. CONCLUSIONS: We identified several mechanisms that could help address and/or manage the negative influence of corporations on public health policy, research and practice. If adopted and evaluated more widely, many of the mechanisms described in this manuscript could contribute to efforts to prevent and control non-communicable diseases. TRIAL REGISTRATION DETAILS: The protocol was registered with the Open Science Framework on 27 May 2019 (https://osf.io/xc2vp).


Subject(s)
Health Policy , Industry/legislation & jurisprudence , Public Health/legislation & jurisprudence , Commerce/legislation & jurisprudence , Conflict of Interest , Humans , Politics , Public Health/standards
17.
PLoS One ; 15(6): e0235021, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-32579571

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Many patient organisations collaborate with drug companies, resulting in concerns about commercial agendas influencing patient advocacy. We contribute to an international body of knowledge on patient organisation-industry relations by considering payments reported in the industry's centralised 'collaboration database' in Sweden. We also investigate possible commercial motives behind the funding by assessing its association with drug commercialisation. METHODS: Our primary data source were 1,337 payment reports from 2014-2018. After extraction and coding, we analysed the data descriptively, calculating the number, value and distribution of payments for various units of analysis, e.g. individual companies, diseases and payment goals. The association between drug commercialisation and patient organisation funding was assessed by, first, the concordance between leading companies marketing drugs in specific diseases and their funding of corresponding patient organisations and, second, the correlation between new drugs in broader condition areas and payments to corresponding patient organisations. RESULTS: 46 companies reported paying €6,449.224 (median €2,411; IQR €1,024-4,569) to 77 patient organisations, but ten companies provided 67% of the funding. Small payments dominated, many of which covered costs of events organised by patient organisations. An association existed between drug commercialisation and industry funding. Companies supported patient organisations in diseases linked to their drug portfolios, with the top 3 condition areas in terms of funding-cancer; endocrine, nutritional and metabolic disorders; and infectious and parasitic disorders-accounting for 63% of new drugs and 56% of the funding. CONCLUSION: This study reveals close and widespread ties between patient organisations and drug companies. A relatively few number of companies dominated the funding landscape by supporting patient organisations in disease areas linked to their drug portfolios. This commercially motivated funding may contribute to inequalities in resource and influence between patient organisations. The association between drug commercialisation and industry funding is also worrying because of the therapeutic uncertainty of many new drugs. Our analysis benefited from the existence of a centralised database of payments-which should be adopted by other countries too-but databases should be downloadable in an analysable format to permit efficient and independent analysis.


Subject(s)
Drug Industry/economics , Financial Support , Patient Advocacy/economics , Pharmaceutical Preparations/economics , Conflict of Interest , Cross-Sectional Studies , Drug Costs , Humans , Marketing/economics , Organizations/economics , Organizations/ethics , Patient Advocacy/ethics , Sweden
19.
Asia Pac J Public Health ; 32(4): 172-178, 2020 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-32396402

ABSTRACT

In India, there has been no attempt to measure the implementation of World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Article 5.3, which provides guidelines to address tobacco industry interference (TII). This study draws on a desk review conducted to assess the frequency and severity of TIIs and the government's response, reported between January and December 2017. This study highlights that the government of India does not allow tobacco industry to participate in policy development. However, the industry interferes by collaborating with the government's allied organizations. The tobacco industry has diversified as food industry in India, and directly or indirectly supports various government programs, by investing through their corporate social responsibility schemes. In addition, there are limited legislative measures to allow transparency in adoption of Article 5.3 guidelines across the country. Hence, the findings of this study underscore an exigent need to adopt and implement Article 5.3 at the national level in India.


Subject(s)
Interinstitutional Relations , Smoking Prevention/legislation & jurisprudence , Tobacco Industry , Conflict of Interest , Government , Guidelines as Topic , Humans , India , Policy Making , Tobacco Industry/legislation & jurisprudence , World Health Organization
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