Health professional associations and industry funding

The Lancet, 389 (10069), p597-598, 11 February 2017
Authors: Anthony Costello, Francesco Branca, Nigel Rollins, Nigel Rollins, Marcus Stahlhofer, Laurence Grummer-Strawn
“The UK Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) announced in October, 2016, its decision to continue to accept funding from manufacturers of breast milk substitutes (BMS). This decision raises serious concerns about the college’s impartiality and sets a harmful precedent for other health professional organisations. In order to protect the credibility and the authority of professional organisations that contribute to the formulation of public policy, they need to adopt codes of conduct and practices that protect their independence from vested interests.”
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Making headway against low value services

MJA Insight, 13 February 2017
Author: Nicole Mackee
“The push to address the use of low value, or potentially harmful, medical services is continuing to gain pace in Australia, say experts, after the Lancet published an article describing the overuse of medical services worldwide. Professor Adam Elshaug, professor of Health Policy at the University of Sydney, codirector of the Menzies Centre for Health Policy and a coleader of a Lancet series, Right Care, said Australia’s clinical community had pulled together to drive initiatives aimed at tackling inappropriate care.”
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Remote monitoring of medical devices in Australia

Med J Aust 2017; 206 (2): 62-63
Authors: Bradley Wilsmore, James Leitch
“The collection, storage and distribution of remote monitoring information by industry are not clearly regulated. Regulation is complex, given all current industry providers have offshore servers and local distribution of data. While some companies have adopted a worldwide information security management system standard (ISO 27001), regulation has been company dependent and the current system is largely self-regulated by industry at the local level. This raises further issues and may exacerbate the potential for a conflict of interest regarding industry involvement.”
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Thousands of pacemakers and defibrillators ‘at risk of hacking’

SMH, 6 February 2017
Author: Julia Medew
“Thousands of Australians with pacemakers and defibrillators in their hearts are at risk of cyber security breaches that could allow somebody to kill them, doctors say. Some cardiologists are also concerned that the multi-billion dollar medical device industry has too much control over devices being implanted in Australians, and that this could lead to over-servicing to boost profits.”
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Industry partnerships continue to muddy waters

Doctor Portal, 30 January 2017
Author: Sarah Colyer
“A study in JAMA Internal Medicine found that financial ties of principal study investigators increased the likelihood of positive outcomes in a random sample of 190 randomised controlled trials of drug efficacy. The prevalence of financial ties of principal investigators was 76% among positive studies and 49% among negative studies. This association remained significant after adjusting for study funding source.”
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Is ‘big food’ political lobbying helping shape health policies at the public’s expense?

SMH, 23 January 2017
Author: Daniel Burdon
“Lobbyists for ‘big food’ are potentially swaying health policies in favour of their corporate bottom line in Australia, new research has claimed. A Deakin University study published Monday has reported finding “direct evidence” of food industry political tactics that had the potential to shape public health-related policies, at the expense of public health.”
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City Sues Pharma Company Over OxyContin Black Market

Huffington Post, 20 January 2017
Author: Mary Papenfuss
“In the first-ever lawsuit of its kind, a city in Washington has sued a pharmaceutical company for “enabling” the devastating OxyContin black market. The lawsuit by Everett, a city of 100,000 north of Seattle, is claiming that Purdue Pharmaceuticals had evidence that its pills were going to drug traffickers but chose to ignore the situation and failed to inform law enforcement in order to maximize profits.”
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Financial ties of principal investigators and randomized controlled trial outcomes: cross sectional study

BMJ 2017; 356:i6770
Authors: Rosa Ahn, Alexandra Woodbridge, Ann Abraham, Susan Saba et al
“Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are considered the most reliable form of evidence in evaluating the safety and efficacy of drugs. Because results of RCTs shape the evidence base, objectivity in the conduct of clinical trials has important implications for clinical practice and the health and safety of patients. However, critics worry that involvement of the pharmaceutical industry may bias the design and interpretation of RCTs.”
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Northern Territory must respect women’s judgment on abortion, advocates say

The Guardian, 19 January 2017
Author: Helen Davidson
“The Northern Territory must give more respect to women as competent decision-makers and stop using criminal law to restrict access to abortion, the Human Rights Law Centre has urged. Outside of limited allowable circumstances, abortion is a criminal offence under the NT criminal code, and the territory is currently the only Australian jurisdiction where women must be in a hospital for any abortion. The availability of medical terminations – using the drug known as RU486 – lags far behind the rest of the country.”
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Why don’t we know how many people die in our hospitals?

The Conversation, 19 January 2017
Authors: Philip Clarke, Peter Sivey
“About this time last year, Australia’s National Health Performance Authority (NHPA) decided not to release data on death rates across Australia’s hospitals. Information on hospital deaths hasn’t always been so hard to find. Comparisons of death rates across hospitals can be tricky, as you need to adjust for some hospitals treating sicker patients than others. However, other countries have been producing death statistics that make these adjustments for some time. Publishing such performance data not only gives patients more information, it can help improve quality and safety.”
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