Many clinical practice guidelines for treating type 2 diabetes may be influenced by industry

Clinical practice guidelines are used by millions of doctors across the country to treat their type 2 diabetes patients, but a new analysis suggests that many of them are influenced by industry, as most of their authors have conflicts of interest.

The findings could have important implications given the degree to which the medical community relies on the guidelines. In many cases they are instrumental in creating the standard of care. However, the findings suggest these standards may push industry interests rather than clinical best practices.

For the study, a team of researchers from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine looked at 288 individuals who sat on panels that developed widely used clinical practice guidelines from the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

The researchers reported in the British Journal of Medicine that 52 percent of these individuals had received financial benefits from industry groups that may have constituted a conflict of interest. What's more, one out of nine panel members had a conflict of interest even when they formally declared that they did not.

Panel members from the lone government board under review (the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force) appeared to be less affected by industry influence.

Findings from the study underscore the point that more needs to be done to bring transparency and accountability to the development of clinical practice guidelines, the researchers said.

"Conflict-free guideline panels are feasible and would help to improve the quality of the guideline development process," the team wrote in their report.

They said they support from the World Health Organization to bring greater transparency to the process. This could help lead to the development of more effective treatment recommendations that improve the the care of millions of individuals with type 2 diabetes.