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    1 Comment for this article
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    Errors in Numbers and Values in Study of Industry Payments to Authors Involved in the Valsartan Scandal in Japan
    Toyoaki Sawano, MD | Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital
    Department of Surgery, Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital, 54-6 Takamicho 2 chome, Haramachi, Minamisoma, Fukushima 975-0033, Japan (toyoakisawano@gmail.com)

    I write on behalf of my coauthors to explain some errors in our study, “Payments From Pharmaceutical Companies to Authors Involved in the Valsartan Scandal in Japan,” that was published on May 17, 2019, in JAMA Network Open.1 This was a retrospective cross-sectional study of data on payments from 78 pharmaceutical companies to 50 authors of 5 articles retracted after the valsartan scandal. We reported that many of the authors involved in the valsartan scandal received payments from the pharmaceutical industry. The
    database we used for this study is available online. While reconfirming the consistency of data reported in our study with the database, we found that we had double counted payments from some pharmaceutical companies. This affected the number and percentage of authors reported to have received such payments as well as the related monetary values of payments.

    Thus, the correct number and percentage of authors who received payments is 29 of 50 (58%) and not 30 (60%). The correct payments in Japanese yen totaled ¥64.19 million (US $564,858) and not ¥67.15 million (US $590,896). There are similar corrections for these values in the text and Tables 2 and 3. The study conclusions and interpretations remain unchanged and we confirm that there are no other errors in the original article. We apologize to readers for any confusion this may have caused. We have asked the editors to correct the original article.

    Reference
    1. Sawano T, Ozaki A, Saito H, Shimada Y, Tanimoto T. Payments From Pharmaceutical Companies to Authors Involved in the Valsartan Scandal in Japan. JAMA Netw Open. Published online May 17, 20192(5):e193817. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.3817
    CONFLICT OF INTEREST: None Reported
    READ MORE
    Original Investigation
    Medical Journals and Publishing
    May 17, 2019

    Payments From Pharmaceutical Companies to Authors Involved in the Valsartan Scandal in Japan

    Author Affiliations
    • 1Department of Surgery, Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital, Fukushima, Japan
    • 2Department of Breast Surgery, Jyoban Hospital of Tokiwa Foundation, Iwaki, Fukushima, Japan
    • 3Medical Governance Research Institute, Shinagawa, Tokyo, Japan
    • 4Department of Gastroenterology, Sendai Kousei Hospital, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan
    • 5Department of Neurosurgery, Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital, Fukushima, Japan
    JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(5):e193817. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.3817
    Key Points español 中文 (chinese)

    Question  What is the extent of payments from pharmaceutical companies to authors who wrote the 5 retracted articles on the valsartan clinical trials after the revelation of the scandal in 2013?

    Findings  A retrospective cross-sectional analysis using pharmaceutical companies’ data in 2016 showed that 29 of 50 authors (58%) associated with the 5 articles received payments from pharmaceutical companies, with 10% of authors receiving payment in the Japanese yen of more than ¥5 million. The total payment to the corresponding author of these 5 articles accounted for 43.4% of the total payments.

    Meaning  Study finding suggest that clinical trial practitioners received large payments from the pharmaceutical industry even after the unprecedented scandal.

    Abstract

    Importance  Financial relationships between pharmaceutical companies and physicians can bias the conduct, findings, and reporting of clinical trials. In Japan, the valsartan scandal was a significant event: all 5 key articles on the valsartan clinical trials were retracted after the revelation of data falsification. Consequently, the Japan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association issued transparency guidelines, and pharmaceutical payments have been publicly disclosed since 2013. However, the distribution of payments from pharmaceutical companies among authors involved in the valsartan scandal after its revelation has not been studied to date.

    Objective  To identify the characteristics and distribution of payments from pharmaceutical companies to researchers involved in the valsartan scandal in Japan by using a comprehensive payment database.

    Design, Setting, and Participants  This retrospective cross-sectional study, conducted from January 1, 2016, through September 30, 2017, used information on payments from 78 pharmaceutical companies to 50 authors of 5 articles retracted after the valsartan scandal: the Kyoto Heart Study, Jikei Heart Study, SMART (Shiga Microalbuminuria Reduction Trial), VART (Valsartan Amlodipine Randomized Trial), and Nagoya Heart Study. Payments from companies to physicians were analyzed during the period from January 1, 2016, to September 30, 2017.

    Main Outcomes and Measures  The main outcomes were the amount and proportion of payments made by pharmaceutical companies to authors, and the forms of these payments.

    Results  Of 50 eligible authors, 29 (58%) received payments from pharmaceutical companies in 2016. The payments in the Japanese yen totaled ¥64 188 393 (US $564 858) and the mean (SD) payment was more than ¥1 283 768 (¥2 999 919) (US $11 297 [$26 399]). Five authors (10%) received more than ¥5 million (US $44 000) and 3 authors (6%) received more than ¥10 million (US $88 000). The total payments to the corresponding author of each article was ¥27 826 374 (US $244 872), accounting for 43.4% of the total payments. Regarding forms of the payments, lecture fees accounted for 81.3% of the total payment (¥54 182 972 [US $476 810]).

    Conclusions and Relevance  Many authors involved in the valsartan scandal received payments from the pharmaceutical industry. Although whether such payments to these authors have decreased since the scandal is unclear, the findings appear to demonstrate that their financial relationships with the industry are still prominent. The findings of the study appear to support the need to encourage more transparency in such relationships because misconduct can occur within unclear relationships.

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