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Financial Relationships of Gastroenterology Guideline Authors: Analysis of Sunshine Act CMS Open Payments Database


Shah, Raj MD1; Numan, Laith MD2; Chandar, Apoorva K. MD, MPH1; Maruggi, Chiara MD1; Alabdulwahhab, Motib MD1; Chauhan, Mahak MD2; Davitkov, Perica MD3; Falck-Ytter, Yngve MD3

doi: 10.14309/01.ajg.0000594136.18844.27

1University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH;

2University of Missouri, Kansas City, MO;

3Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH.

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There is a lack of data in regards to industry financial relationship in gastroenterology. The Sunshine Act CMS Open Payment Database is a national program that increases the transparency of financial relationships between physicians and industry. Per the 2011 Institute of Medicine standards for guidelines, an increased effort is being placed on minimizing conflicts of guideline authors. We aimed to delineate the financial relationships between industry and guideline authors in gastroenterology using the Sunshine database.

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Guidelines and guideline authors using GRADE methodology from American Association for the Study of Liver Disease, American College of Gastroenterology, American Gastroenterology Association, and American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy societies from 2013 to October 15, 2018, were abstracted. We searched the Sunshine database for each author the year the guideline was published and the year before the guideline publication date, when available. Only general payments were examined. Authors who published many guidelines in the same year were only counted once when calculating general payments.

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562 authors were included. Of those, a total of 249 guideline authors were found on the open payment website with available data. 238 (95.5%) received general payments during the time of their publication, and 176 (73.9%) of them got more than $500. 238/562 (44.3%) of total authors received general payments. Payments made for consulting amounted to $2,279,469 (39.5%). A total of 5,883 payments were made. The total amount of general payments for all authors is $5,775,403. The average payment per author was $24,266.

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Collectively, guideline authors received at least $5,775,403 from industry relationships between 2013-2018 and three quarters received over the amount $500. The largest amount of money was spent on consulting fees. Less than half of Gastroenterology guideline authors receive payments from industry during the time they are working on guidelines, but as a scientific community, we can improve in minimizing external influences in the guideline development process.

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