Who Is Writing the Medical “Standard of Practice Guidelines”? Prepare to Be Shocked (But Not Really)

Published: October 21, 2012
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Ever wonder where the medical guidelines that physicians use come from? One would hope that they would be based predominantly on the public's best interest, and on science.

But they're not.

Very often (especially when a lot of money rides on the outcome) the guidelines come from committees of groups such as the American Heart Association or the American College of Cardiology. And a recent study in the British Medical Journal showed that over half of the experts serving on these committees had a conflict of interest — meaning that they were on the payroll of the drug companies!

The unfortunate finding showed that without realizing it, most physicians have been unwittingly following key recommendations being made by drug companies masquerading as expert panels of the medical specialty boards!

In an editorial accompanying the study, Dr. Edwin Gale observes: "The common suggestion that guideline committees should include only experts with no conflicts of interest has 'a charming sense of unreality' … Money from drug companies is the oxygen on which the academic medical world depends. The income of the professional societies that publish guidelines largely derives from their annual conferences, which depend on the rents charged to exhibitors and the registration of company-sponsored delegates … Let us therefore forget the hand-wringing and confront the reality of the world in which we live."

In other words, don't hold your breath hoping that the healthcare industry will reform itself anytime soon.

The good news? The information you need to make informed choices and to learn about natural alternatives is readily available. You don't have to wait until your physician realizes that they have been ignoring the "900 pound gorilla" that runs the healthcare industry.

References

"Prevalence of financial conflicts of interest among panel members producing clinical practice guidelines in Canada and the United States: cross sectional study." Neuman J, Korenstein D, Ross J, and Keyhani S. BMJ 2011; DOI: 10.1136/bmj.d5621.

"Practice guidelines developed by specialty societies: The need for a critical appraisal." Grilli R, Magrini N, Penna A, et al. Lancet 2000; 355:103-106.

"Conflicts of Interest Abound in Diabetes Guidelines Committees." Gale EAM. BMJ 2011; DOI: 10.1136/bmj.d5728.

Jacob Teitelbaum, MD

is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of four research studies on their treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome From Fatigued to Fantastic! and his newer The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution.  Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health. 

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