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NAS Does Not Appear to Consider Bias or Conflicts of Interests in Picking Panels -Report

justinreilly

Senior Member
Messages
2,498
Location
NYC (& RI)
Center for Science in the Public Interest report blasts National Academies of Science committees as laden with undisclosed bias and conflicts of interest. The Institute of Medicine is one of the National Academies of Sciences ("NAS")

"Ensuring Independence and Objectivity at the National Academies" 2006

[All Bolding is from the original; underlining and italics added for emphasis]

Thanks to Leela for finding this!

http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/nasreport.pdf

...Unfortunately, we found serious deficiencies in the NAS’s committee-selection process that could jeopardize the quality of future NAS reports. The NAS has allowed numerous scientists (and others) with blatant conflicts of interest to sit on committees. Compounding that problem, those conflicts of interest usually are not disclosed to the public
- Michael Jacobson, PhD
Executive Director
Center for Science in the Public Interest
[above from Preface]

STUDY FINDINGS:
1. A Failure to Eliminate Direct Conflicts of Interest
...Among the 320 professionals on 21 NAS committees investigated by CSPI over the past three years, at least 56 (18 percent) had direct conflicts of interest.

Finding: Nearly one out of every five scientists appointed to an NAS panel has direct financial ties to companies or industry groups with a direct stake in the outcome of that study. This consistent pattern of appointing scientists with conflicts of interest clearly violates the spirit of the Federal Advisory Committee Act amendments that apply to NAS.

2. A Failure to Achieve Balance

Independent background checks by CSPI investigators found at least 66 scientists whose employment, significant and long-term financial relationships, published writings, think-tank membership, or courtroom testimony demonstrated pro-industry positions. On the other hand, only nine of the 320 scientists worked for or were closely identified through their writings or published studies with environmental or public interest groups.

Finding: NAS did a poor job of balancing points of view on a majority of the study panels examined. The NAS does not appear to consider information about potential bias or conflicts of interest prior to nominating individuals to a committee. As a result, about half the panels examined had scientists with identifiable biases who were not offset by scientists with alternative points of view.

3. A Failure to Disclose Information about Conflicts of Interest

Among the 320 scientists and other professionals examined in this study, nearly a fifth had some ties to industries that might be affected by the study. Yet the NAS revealed those ties to the public (via its website) in only 46 percent of those cases.

Finding: The NAS provides brief biographies of nominees to its committees on the agency’s website. Such biographies could assist people who were considering commenting on a committee’s composition. However, those biographies are woefully inadequate because, in a majority of cases, they fail to provide crucial data regarding conflicts of interest and points of view.

RECOMMENDATIONS

To achieve its stated goal of “ensuring independent, objective advice” for federal agencies, Congress, and the general public, the NAS should take the following steps:
  • The NAS should expand its definition of conflicts of interest to include any financial ties within the past five years with companies that might be affected by the committee’s work, either directly or indirectly…
    [above from pp. i-ii]
 

jspotila

Senior Member
Messages
1,099
Has anyone reached out to CSPI to see if they have updated the analysis since 2006. If they still feel there is a problem, that would be VERY helpful to know.
 

justinreilly

Senior Member
Messages
2,498
Location
NYC (& RI)
Has anyone reached out to CSPI to see if they have updated the analysis since 2006. If they still feel there is a problem, that would be VERY helpful to know.

That could be helpful. I would suspect there is no change. I am too busy right now. Do you mind contacting them if this is important to you?
 

jspotila

Senior Member
Messages
1,099
That could be helpful. I would suspect there is no change. I am too busy right now. Do you mind contacting them if this is important to you?

Can't. Dealing with two huge CFSAC issues, at least one of which will break this week. Plus gearing up for IOM panelist research.

Anyone else have a few minutes to devote to checking this out?
 

Ren

.
Messages
385
A general search does not reveal anything new - though I could have of course missed something.

Contact Info:

Center for Science in the Public Interest
1220 L St. N.W.
Suite 300
Washington, D.C. 20005
Main switchboard: (202) 332-9110
Fax: (202) 265-4954
cspinews@cspinet.org

The listed email info is for journalists and questions re articles (see original website for more info). The following was sent today, but who knows if they'll reply re this matter:

"Hi - In 2006, your organization released the report, "Ensuring Independence and Objectivity at the National Academies" (http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/nasreport.pdf). Can you tell me, please, if CSPI has evaluated the National Acadamies, particularly the Institute of Medicine since this 2006 report?

And could you additionally please say if CSPI would be interested in evaluating the upcoming committee selection for IOM's controversial and much-protested redefinition of myalgic encephalomyelitis (WHO G93.3)? Thank you..."
 

alex3619

Senior Member
Messages
13,810
Location
Logan, Queensland, Australia
"Hi - In 2006, your organization released the report, "Ensuring Independence and Objectivity at the National Academies" (http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/nasreport.pdf). Can you tell me, please, if CSPI has evaluated the National Acadamies, particularly the Institute of Medicine since this 2006 report?

And could you additionally please say if CSPI would be interested in evaluating the upcoming committee selection for IOM's controversial and much-protested redefinition of myalgic encephalomyelitis (WHO G93.3)? Thank you..."

:thumbsup:
 

justinreilly

Senior Member
Messages
2,498
Location
NYC (& RI)
Hey, if anybody comes across any reading material about 'this is how you make a case definition' can you please post it here? Thanks.
 

alex3619

Senior Member
Messages
13,810
Location
Logan, Queensland, Australia
For outbreaks the CDC advises the following for case definitions: http://emergency.cdc.gov/urdo/pdf/CaseDefinitions.pdf

This will give some insight into what should have happened at Incline Village etc. Its not very useful for the IOM issue though.

Here is something for animals, which is more thorough than the CDC is for humans:

http://www.fao.org/docrep/007/y5325e/y5325e0c.htm

I would suggest that a case definition is not what we are looking for. The use of the word "case" will lead to identification of specific cases in specific outbreaks, and is not about general diagnostic definitions. However there is also the issue that diagnostic definitions may bias any search toward testing.

This one is more relevant as it looks at panels, diagnostic definitions and industry bias:
http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001500

This last one includes comments like this: "No publication included rigorous assessment of potential harms of proposed changes."

In relation to biomarkers there is this attempt at a qualitative approach:
jrheum.com/omeract/download.php?username=omeract&pdf=8-607

I don't think this is an http address, enter it into the browser and refresh and it will download the document.

For a biased discussion of biomarkers, and a new term "information based medicine" here is an IBM document: http://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/gbs/bus/pdf/g510-6640-00_biomarker.pdf

This appears aimed at a more bioinformatics approach.
 
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justinreilly

Senior Member
Messages
2,498
Location
NYC (& RI)
Man, these guys love the 'diversity/outside-opinion' thing. I saw this on wikipedia:

"An unusual diversity of talent among Institute members is assured by the charter stipulation that at least one-quarter be selected from outside the health professions, from such fields as the natural, social, and behavioral sciences, as well as law, administration, engineering, and the humanities."
 

Ren

.
Messages
385
@alex3619 - I'm very nearly all read-out today, but since you mentioned "biomarkers" above - I wanted to mention that I earlier noticed the following 2010 IOM text: Qualification of Biomarkers and Surrogate Endpoints in Chronic Disease. http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=12869

As I said, I happened upon it in some earlier reading material. (At that time, I did a quick search for "fatigue", "myalgic" and "virus" - but had zero hits. I was of course looking for as related to: chronic fatigue syndrome, myalgic encephalomyelitis, or post-viral fatigue syndrome.)

Just thought I'd mention the text though, should it be something you believe could somehow be useful. :)
 
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Ren

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Messages
385
@alex3619, Thank you for looking further into the above report, especially since it seems to be a dead end. (Odd re the password request. I didn't experience that - go figure.) Thanx again. :)