More than half of the payments made by orthopaedic device companies to surgeons in the US were not disclosed in journal articles, according to a study published in Archives of Internal Medicine.
Researchers at the New York-based Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) analysed orthopaedic surgeon payments made in 2007 by Biomet, DePuy Orthopedics, Smith & Nephew, Stryker and Zimmer.
About 1,654 payments – amounting to $248m –were made to physicians for honoraria, consulting and other services. Payments made to 41 orthopaedic researchers ranged from $1m to $8.8m.
Researchers evaluated 95 articles published in the scientific literature after high payments were made to the surgeons, and found that disclosure about payment was made in less than half.
David Rothman, the study’s senior author, said that the findings raised troubling questions about undisclosed payments, royalties and other fees from medical device companies that could lead to biased scientific conclusions.
“Patients have a real stake in transparency, and you want to make sure that the surgeon is choosing the device that is best for you and that your doctor is not getting biased information,” Rothman said.