Conflict of interest widespread

The study of 16 expert panel publications released between 2000 and this year suggested conflicts of interest were widespread. 

Ten of the panels proposed changes that widened disease definitions, while one narrowed a definition.

Among the 14 panels with disclosure sections, 75% of members had industry ties. Those members averaged ties to seven companies. Twelve panels were chaired by people with industry ties. 

Lead author Ray Moynihan of Bond University said there was “a sense of systemic corruption".

In some cases, such as hypertension, the rationale for broadening the diagnosis criteria was clear. However, the authors said at other times, such as with asthma, “the rationale was less clear, more complex and diffuse". 

In the case of a 2009 asthma panel, 20 of the 24 panel members had ties to GlaxoSmithKline, the authors pointed out. 

They also cited previous research linking widened