A quarter of medical researchers involved in clinical trials in Australia did not declare funding from pharmaceutical companies.
One in four Australian medical researchers involved in drug trials failed to declare money they had received from pharmaceutical companies when submitting journal manuscripts, a study reports.
A researcher who fails to disclose or discuss the steps taken to mitigate a conflict of interest is never a good look. It is especially a concern if someone involved in a clinical trial fails to deal with (at least a perceived) conflict relating to funding from a pharmaceutical company. This can seriously harm the reputation of individual researchers, potentially their host institution, the publication where their research is reported and potentially clinical research in general.
The study found that missing or incomplete declarations were common. Half of the trials and a quarter of the 323 Australian authors involved had at least one undeclared financial conflict (see ‘Undeclared conflicts’), with undisclosed payments ranging from AU$140 to AU$97,600 (US$100 to US$71,000) for consulting, advisory meetings, speaker fees and education events.
The results are sobering and similar to those from US studies2, which “suggests that the fundamental problem of conflict-of-interest non-disclosure is a persistent one” in clinical research — evident across journals, across countries and over time, says James Baraldi, a neuroscientist at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.