In her commentary, Dr. Fugh-Berman reports that she was approached by a medical education company working for a well-known pharmaceutical manufacturer. The company asked her to lend her name as “author” to a completed manuscript that reviewed herb-warfarin interactions. The pharmaceutical manufacturer was developing a competitor to warfarin and had apparently commissioned the article to highlight problems with warfarin.
Fugh-Berman says that the true sponsorship of articles is often fuzzy because pharmaceutical companies hire medical education companies to act as intermediaries with researchers. She says that the current voluntary standards for declaring conflicts of interest to readers of medical journals and audiences at medical conferences are inadequate, and that a public database detailing physicians’ and researchers’ conflicts of interest is needed.
The full commentary, as it appears in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, is available here.
Dr. Fugh-Berman, a general practitioner who is the author of a reference text, The 5-Minute Herb and Dietary Supplement Consult (Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins 2003), teaches in the Georgetown University School of Medicine’s complementary and alternative medicine master’s degree program. Based in the department of physiology and biophysics, it is the first degree-granting master's program in complementary and alternative medicine in the United States. Dr. Fugh-Berman’s research focuses on herbs and dietary supplements, women's health, the assessment of benefits and risks in alternative medicine and conventional medicine, and influences on physician prescribing. She has published articles in medical journals including The Lancet, Annals of Internal Medicine, Reproductive Toxicology, and Experimental Biology and Medicine.
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