Commentary: Disclosure's failings: what is the alternative?

Acad Med. 2009 Sep;84(9):1180-1. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181b17e93.


Failure to disclose all sources of financial support in biomedical publications has been the focus of media critiques of authors, journals, and professional societies. In this issue, David Resnik properly calls attention to the need in many cases for an archaeological dig to discover all the companies that fund a particular research project. Disclosure is widely considered the best disinfectant for relationships between investigators and industry, but even though disclosure is necessary and all funding sources should be exposed, disclosure is not a real solution to dealing with conflicts of interest. Here the author calls attention to the more dangerous problem--namely, the existence and persistence of the financial conflict even despite full disclosure. The author makes the point that the vast attention paid to failure to disclose is misplaced, and that more attention must be focused on the financial conflicts themselves and their consequences. He avers that the best approach to financial conflicts is to have none, and that those individuals who are free of financial ties to industry should be the ones appointed to major decision-making roles in journals, clinical practice guideline committees, FDA panels, and professional societies.

Publication types

  • Comment
  • Editorial

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic / economics
  • Conflict of Interest / economics*
  • Disclosure*
  • Humans
  • Periodicals as Topic*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic