(HealthDay News) — Abstracts submitted to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting by researchers who have financial relationships with commercial interests are more prominently placed and more favorably scored by peers, according to research published online June 17 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Beverly Moy, M.D., M.P.H., of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Boston, and colleagues analyzed 20,718 abstracts presented at ASCO meetings in 2006 and 2008 to 2011. The association of financial conflicts of interest (FCOIs) with meeting placement and peer review score was examined. On a scale of 1 to 5, lower peer-reviewed scores indicated greater scientific merit.

The researchers found that 36 percent of the abstracts had at least one author who reported an FCOI. A significant increase in the proportion of abstracts with any FCOI was observed for 2011 (38 percent) compared with 2006 (33 percent). Compared with general posters, abstracts with FCOIs were significantly more likely to receive placement (in descending order of meeting prominence) in plenary session (odds ratio [OR], 7.3), clinical science symposium (OR, 2.2), oral presentation (OR, 1.9), and poster discussion (OR, 1.7). For all abstracts except publish-only, those with FCOIs had a significantly more favorable mean peer-reviewed score (2.62) compared with those without FCOIs (2.73).

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“Real and perceived financial conflicts of interest and risks of bias in the conduct and reporting of research represent important issues that necessitate strategies to safeguard the public,” writes the author of an accompanying editorial.

Several study authors and the editorial author disclosed financial ties to the biomedical and/or pharmaceutical industries.

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