Professor Warwick Anderson, ceo of the NHMRC, has sent in the following comment re the guidelines controversy. (Readers with an interest in these issues may want to check out the details of a workshop being held by the NHMRC in Canberra on June 2):
“Last week, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) released for public consultation its ‘Clinical Practice Guideline for the Prevention of Venous Thromboembolism (Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism) in Patients Admitted to Australian Hospitals’.
This clinical practice guideline is not related to the VTE guidelines developed by the Australia and New Zealand Working Party (which were the subject of an article in last week’s MJA). NHMRC’s guideline was developed by a committee of experts chaired by Professor Michael Frommer, and which included representation from key clinical disciplines, as well as nursing, pharmacy, epidemiology, and consumer groups.
This is the first guideline for VTE prevention in Australian practice which has been developed in accordance with the rigorous standards required by NHMRC. All recommendations in the guideline are graded, and are clearly linked to the evidence on which they are based. Where recommendations are based on consensus opinion rather than on research, this is noted in the guideline. All conflicts of interest of committee members are declared and published in full within the guideline. The committee also had a clear process for managing conflicts of interest throughout the guideline development process.
With respect to management of competing interests in guideline development, NHMRC will be considering new guidelines on disclosure and management of competing interests in guideline development later this year.
Finally, NHMRC will hold a workshop on Transparency and Competing Interests on June 2, 2009.”