The unintended consequences of conflict of interest disclosure.


Conflicts of interest, both financial and nonfinancial, are ubiquitous in medicine, and the most commonly prescribed remedy is disclosure. The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission and the Accountable Care Act impose a range of disclosure requirements for physicians, and almost all medical journals now require authors to disclose conflicts of interest (although these requirements may be imperfectly heeded). Given that some relationships between physicians and industry are fruitful and some conflicts are unavoidable, can disclosure correct the problems that arise when economic interests prevent physicians from putting patients’ interests first?