Desai AP, et al. Cancer 2020.
BACKGROUND: Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) are evidence-based guidelines that serve as a standard of care in oncology practice, reimbursements, and quality improvement initiatives. To our knowledge, the extent of financial conflicts of interest (FCOIs) in National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines have not been systemically evaluated. The current study evaluated the extent of FCOIs in the NCCN CPGs for the most common malignancies in the United States.
METHODS: The authors examined the latest 2019 versions of the NCCN CPGs for the 10 most common cancers by incidence in the United States. Using disclosure lists, they catalogued the FCOIs for the panelists under various categories outlined in the CPG. The authors also tabulated the companies and institutions involved in each panel disclosure. An "episode" describes 1 instance of participation of a panelist in 1 company in 1 category of each guideline. "Affiliation" describes an industrial, commercial, or institutional affiliation reported by a panelist in each episode.
RESULTS: Of the 491 panelists on the CPG panel, 483 (98.3%) completed FCOI disclosures. A total of 224 (46.4%) reported at least 1 FCOI episode. A total of 1103 episodes were disclosed with an average of 4.9 episodes reported per panelist with FCOIs. Acting as part of scientific advisory boards, as a consultant, or as an expert witness was the most common FCOI category (19.9%). A total of 191 companies were associated with 1103 episodes of FCOI. The top companies were Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, Genentech, and AstraZeneca. Among cancers, the prevalence of FCOIs was highest for lung cancer (56%), bladder cancer (52%), pancreatic cancer (52%), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (50%), kidney cancer (49%), colorectal cancer (43%), breast cancer (42%), melanoma (40%), prostate cancer (38%), and uterine cancer (32%). Among the panelists with FCOIs, 26%, 17%, and 57%, respectively, reported 1, 2, and >3 episodes. There were 127 episodes noted among the CPG chairs and/or vice chairs who reported FCOIs (mean, 6.4 episodes). The chairs and/or vice chairs of CPGs for uterine cancer, pancreatic cancer, melanoma, and prostate cancer were not found to have any FCOIs.
CONCLUSIONS: FCOIs are very prevalent among NCCN CPG panelists. In nearly one-half of the CPGs, the majority of the panelists had at least 1 FCOI. Greater than one-half of the CPG chairs and/or vice chairs reported multiple FCOIs. Further research studies are necessary to determine the impact of these FCOIs.