Conflicts of interest

I wrote previously about how the public needs to be aware of the source of their information. Even the professionals on panels may be backed by the wrong people and receiving biased information. The guidelines for autism diagnosis has been a rampant debate within the scientific/medical community as well as the diagnosis of PMDD and mental disorders. The guidelines for hypertension and the development of the condition 'pre-hypertensive' has also previously taken fire as well as the treatment of kidney disease since the head of the committee that made those recommendations was receiving money from the pharmaceutical company that makes the drugs to treat it. And don't even get me started on the websites for pharmaceuticals, which are made by the companies, but labeled as being non-biased.

A new addition to this list, yesterday I read that the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services (a government agency) Stem Cell Council is rife with conflicts of interest, despite it having been chartered to refuse members with ties to those who would gain from particular decisions the panel might make.

From The Scientist NewsBlog:
"The Center for Science in the Public Interest polled the 25 voting members of HHS's Advisory Council on Blood Stem Cell Transplantation (ACBSCT) and found that 11 reported having financial ties to stem cell and umbilical cord blood banking companies, drug makers, and the transplantation industry. "

It makes me want to shake my head. I know that funding is sparse, and scientists are trying to get paid anyway they can for both their personal sakes and for the sake of their research. But nondisclosure is just wrong. In this day and age it may be difficult to make up a truly great panel of the leading thinkers on the topic if they exclude those with external ties, but there are many who struggle and go without such additional revenue who are just as knowledgeable, and less likely to be biased.

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