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. 2016 Aug 15;16(a):383.
doi: 10.1186/s12913-016-1646-5.

Reporting of Financial Conflicts of Interest in Clinical Practice Guidelines: A Case Study Analysis of Guidelines From the Canadian Medical Association Infobase

Free PMC article

Reporting of Financial Conflicts of Interest in Clinical Practice Guidelines: A Case Study Analysis of Guidelines From the Canadian Medical Association Infobase

Adrienne Shnier et al. BMC Health Serv Res. .
Free PMC article


Background: Clinical practice guidelines are widely distributed by medical associations and relied upon by physicians for the best available clinical evidence. International findings report that financial conflicts of interest (FCOI) with drug companies may influence drug recommendations and are common among guideline authors. There is no comparable study on exclusively Canadian guidelines; therefore, we provide a case study of authors' FCOI declarations in guidelines from the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) Infobase. We also assess the financial relationships between guideline-affiliated organizations and drug companies.

Methods: Using a population approach, we extracted first-line drug recommendations and authors' FCOI disclosures in guidelines from the CMA Infobase. We contacted the corresponding authors on guidelines when FCOI disclosures were missing for some or all authors. We also extracted guideline-affiliated organizations and searched each of their websites to determine if they had financial relationships with drug companies.

Results: We analyzed 350 authors from 28 guidelines. Authors were named on one, two, or three guidelines, yielding 400 FCOI statements. In 75.0 % of guidelines at least one author, and in 21.4 % of guidelines all authors, disclosed FCOI with drug companies. In 54.0 % of guidelines at least one author, and in 28.6 % of guidelines over half of the authors, disclosed FCOI with manufacturers of drugs that they recommended. Twenty of 48 authors on multiple guidelines reported different FCOI in their disclosures. Eight guidelines identified affiliated organizations with financial relationships with manufacturers of drugs recommended in those guidelines.

Conclusions: This is the first study to systematically describe FCOI disclosures by authors of Canadian guidelines and financial relationships between guideline-affiliated organizations and pharmaceutical companies. These financial relationships are common. Because authoritative value is assigned to guidelines distributed by medical associations, we encourage them to develop formal policies to limit the potential influence of FCOI on guideline recommendations.

Keywords: Clinical practice guidelines; Disclosure; Financial conflicts of interest; Medicine and the pharmaceutical industry; Treatment recommendations.


Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Guideline exclusion criteria and process of guideline exclusion
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Summary and results of locating disclosure statements

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