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Conflict of Interest at Plastic Surgery Conferences- Is it Significant?

Gray, Rachel BS1,2; Tanna, Neil MD1,2; Kasabian, Armen K. MD1,2

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: May 10, 2019 - Volume PRS Online First - Issue - p
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000005877
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Background: The Physician Payment Sunshine Act requires biomedical companies to disclose financial relationship between themselves and physicians. We compared the amount of money received by speakers at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), and the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) annual conferences with the average plastic surgeon.

Methods: General payments data was gathered from the Open Physician Payments Database for physicians listed as a presenter, moderator, panelist, lecturer, or instructors at the 2017 annual ASPS and ASAPS conferences. Means and medians of payments to speakers were calculated for each conference. One tailed t-tests were used to evaluate differences.

Results: The mean and median for general payments made to conference speakers at ASAPS (n=75) and ASPS (n=249) were $75,577 and $861 and $27,562 and $1,021 respectively. In comparison to the average general payment received by plastic surgeons ($4,788 mean, $3,209 Median) these differences were significant (ASAPS p= 0.015; ASPS p = 0.0004). 12.8% of ASPS speakers and 13.2% of ASAPS speakers received over $37,000 or 10% of the average reported annual salary of plastic surgeons of $371,000.

Conclusions: The significant difference in payments to speakers at conferences compared to the average plastic surgeon suggests that biomedical companies may have influence over some of the conference content. It is likely that the monetary value reported underestimates the true impact of these companies. Speakers must make clear the full extent of industry relationships which could potentially may bias their presentations.

1. Division of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, Hempstead, NY

2. Division of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, Northwell Health, Lake Success, NY

Financial Disclosures: None of the authors have any financial interest in any of the products, devices, or drugs mentioned in this manuscript.

Presented as an oral presentation at 97th Annual Meeting and Symposium of American Association of Plastic Surgeons (AAPS), Seattle, WA, April 10, 2018.

Corresponding Author: Armen K. Kasabian, MD, Systemic Chief of Plastic Surgery, Northwell Health, 1991 Marcus Ave, Suite 102, Lake Success, NY 11042, Phone: (516) - 497-7900, Fax: (516) 497-7920, Email address: Akasabian@northwell.edu

©2019American Society of Plastic Surgeons