Conflict of Interest in Plastic Surgery Conferences, Is it Significant?
Rachel Gray, BS., Neil Tanna, MD., Armen Kasabian, MD..
Division of Plastic Surgery at Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra Northwell, Hempstead, NY, USA.
The Physician Payment Sunshine Act requires biomedical companies to disclose financial relationship between themselves and physicians. We compared the amount of money received by speakers at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), and the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) annual conferences with the average plastic surgeon.
General payments data was gathered from the Open Physician Payments Database for physicians listed as a presenter, moderator, panelist, lecturer, or instructors at the 2017 annual ASPS and ASAPS conferences. Means and medians of payments to speakers were calculated for each conference. One tailed t-tests were used to evaluate differences.
The mean and median for general payments made to conference speakers at ASAPS (n=75) and ASPS (n=249) were $13,534 and $449 and $27,649 and $1,021 respectively. In comparison to the average general payment received by plastic surgeons ($4,788 mean, $311 Median) these differences were significant (ASAPS p= 0.015; ASPS p = 0.0004). 13% of ASPS speakers and 13% of ASAPS speakers received over $37,000 or 10% of the average reported annual salary of plastic surgeons of $371,000.
The significant difference in payments to speakers at conferences compared to the average plastic surgeon suggests that biomedical companies may have influence over some of the conference content. It is likely that the monetary value reported underestimates the true impact of these companies. Speakers must make it clear if they have a conflict of interest which may bias their presentations.
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