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American Academy of Dermatology responds to JAMA Dermatology article on industry payments to guidelines authors

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (Oct. 18, 2017) — Statement from Henry W. Lim, MD, FAAD, president, American Academy of Dermatology/Association

“The American Academy of Dermatology and its members are dedicated to delivering the best possible care to patients while adhering to the highest clinical and ethical standards. As such, we are compelled to comment on the findings and implications of the study ‘Evaluating Industry Payments Among Dermatology Clinical Practice Guidelines Authors,’ published online today in JAMA Dermatology, and we encourage the public to interpret these findings with caution. 

“The AAD promotes and encourages dermatology research that enhances patient care; this includes collaboration between dermatologists and industry partners toward the development of new therapies and the improvement of current therapies. Because the dermatologists who participate in guidelines development are the foremost experts in their field, they often engage with companies that support cutting-edge research in that field. In evaluating potential conflicts of interest among guidelines authors, the AAD does not consider research activities to be conflicts, as these activities are vital in advancing clinical knowledge and fueling dermatologic innovation. 

“As the authors of this paper acknowledge, there is no way to determine how these reported payments influenced physicians in the development of AAD guidelines — or indeed, whether these payments had any influence at all. The authors did not assess the potential relevancy of the payments data they compiled, aside from determining whether companies manufactured products related to the guidelines topics; in doing so, they make the assumption that the physicians’ relationships are connected to those products, when those relationships could in fact be completely unrelated. Further, the authors acknowledge potential inaccuracies in the Open Payments data and the possibility of these inaccuracies being compounded by human error.

“The AAD stands by the strength and accuracy of its clinical guidelines, as well as the regulations in place to minimize the influence of potential conflicts of interest on the guidelines process. While we maintain the guidelines studied in this paper were created in compliance with those regulations, we take seriously this issue, and continue to evaluate and refine our guidelines process to address both real and perceived potential conflicts of interest. 

“The AAD’s clinical guidelines are crucial in helping our members deliver the highest quality patient care, and the participation of individual experts is crucial to developing those guidelines. We believe our members share our commitment to upholding the standards of honesty, integrity and transparency as they work to do what is best for the patients they serve.”

About the AAD

Headquartered in Schaumburg, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology, founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations. With a membership of more than 19,000 physicians worldwide, the AAD is committed to: advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails. For more information, contact the AAD at 1-888-462-DERM (3376) or Follow the AAD on Facebook (American Academy of Dermatology), Twitter (@AADskin), or YouTube (AcademyofDermatology).