Do patients care about conflicts of interest?

From Anne Taylor-Vaisey:

N Engl J Med. 2006 Nov 30;355(22):2330-7.

Patients' views on financial conflicts of interest in cancer research trials. Hampson LA, Agrawal M, Joffe S, Gross CP, Verter J, Emanuel EJ. Department of Clinical Bioethics, Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.

BACKGROUND: Financial ties between researchers or medical centers and companies whose drugs are being tested have come under increasing scrutiny.

METHODS: We conducted in-person interviews with 253 patients in cancer-research trials (a 93% response rate) at five U.S. medical centers to determine their attitudes regarding potential financial conflicts of interest among researchers and medical centers.

RESULTS: More than 90% of patients expressed little or no worry about financial ties that researchers or institutions might have with drug companies. Most patients said they would have enrolled in the trial even if the drug company had paid the researcher for speaking (82% of those interviewed) or consulting (75%) or if the researcher had received royalty payments (70%) or owned stock in the company (76%). Similarly, most patients would have enrolled in the trial if their cancer center had owned stock in the drug company (77%) or received royalty payments from the company (79%). Most patients believed it was ethical for researchers to receive speaking fees (81%) or consulting fees (82%) from the company. However, a substantial minority of patients wanted disclosure of the oversight system for researchers (40%) and of researchers' financial interests (31%); 17% thought no disclosure to patients was necessary. CONCLUSIONS: Most patients in cancer-research trials were not worried about financial ties between researchers or medical centers and drug companies and would still have enrolled in the trial if they had known about such financial ties. A substantial minority wanted to be informed about the oversight system to protect against financial conflicts of interest and about researchers' financial interests. Copyright 2006 Massachusetts Medical Society.

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