Industry has too much influence in health technology body meetings, scientists say

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 24 September 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5850
  1. Matthew Limb
  1. 1London

Leading experts in health technology assessment have warned their global representative body that it risks losing scientific integrity by allowing companies that produce drugs and medical devices too much influence.

Several representatives of Health Technology Assessment International (HTAi) have raised “serious concerns” over its strategic direction in an open letter to its president, Carole Longson. They said that industry views and sponsorship were too prominent at society conferences, which could narrow the focus to “marketable products rather than a broader public health view on health care interventions.” Furthermore, they warned that the organisation’s obligation to protect patients’ interests and act as a neutral forum for “independent researched-based decision support” was being endangered.

Signatories to the letter included David Banta, emeritus professor at the University of Maastricht, who heads the health programme of the US Congressional Office of Technology Assessment.

But the society has defended its neutrality while admitting that the industry’s profile was “higher than in years …

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