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A substantial proportion of pharmaceutical industry payments to authors of oncology clinical trials published in major scientific journals are not disclosed, new research shows. The publications focused on clinical trials that tested new cancer drugs.

The new findings will be published as a research letter in the journal JAMA Oncology.

Authors of the research letter examined the federal Open Payments Database to determine payments to oncologists who authored studies in high-impact journals. They then cross-checked the information to determine whether the authors properly disclosed the funding when the results of their clinical trials were published in scientific journals. Depending on the journal, almost half of total funding was not disclosed.

“It’s the honor system,” said co-author Erick Turner, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry in the OHSU School of Medicine and senior scholar with the Center for Ethics in Health Care at OHSU in Portland, Oregon. “The journals ask the authors to make these disclosures, but there’s no legal force behind it.”

Previous studies have investigated funding disclosures among the authors of clinical practice guidelines. However, this is the first study to examine financial conflict of interest in the publication of clinical trials that underpin FDA approval of new oncology

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