Doctors Challenge Merits of Testing Kids’ Cholesterol

An article published in the journal Pediatrics is criticizing recent government recommendations that 9-11 year-old children have tests to screen their cholesterol levelsThe Associated Press reports that one of the major critiques is that members of the government panel that made the recommendations have ties to the drug industry.

Eight of the 14 guidelines panel members reported industry ties and disclosed that when their advice was published in December. They contend in a rebuttal article in Pediatrics that company payments covered costs of evaluating whether the drugs are safe and effective but did not influence the recommendations.

It also is not uncommon for experts in their fields to have received some consulting fees from drug companies.

Even so, the ties pose a conflict of interest that “undermines the credibility of both the guidelines and the process through which they were produced,” says the commentary by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco. The authors are Dr. Thomas Newman, a researcher and former member of a Food and Drug Administration pediatrics advisory committee, and two heart disease researchers, Drs. Mark Pletcher and Stephen Hulley.

Pletcher has received research funding from drug and device makers; the other authors said they had no relevant industry ties.

Other criticism was published earlier this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association. That critique raised concerns about putting children on cholesterol drugs called statins, noting the medicine has been linked with a rare muscle-damaging condition in adults. Those authors were heart specialist Bruce Psaty and pediatrician Frederick Rivara, both of the University of Washington in Seattle.

Image: Child getting blood drawn, via Shutterstock.

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