The last word on cancer screening conflicts of interest
As it turns out, all of the doctors involved in the lung cancer screening controversy had money coming in from somewhere. The two Weill Cornell doctors who recommended spiral CT scanning for lung cancer and suggested it would save lives had based their research on a 3.6 million dollar grant they received from the tobacco companies. Critics questioned whether their research conclusions might blunt the drive to reduce smoking by suggesting that it was "curable". On top of that influence, it turns out the two doctors would have received royalties from the licensing of General Electric diagnostic technology if screening were to be widely adopted.
The two outspoken critics of the Weill Cornell doctors also had a financial stake: one was a radiologist who received $30,000.00 from tobacco interests for testifying that screening had not been proven effective and should not be charged to tobacco companies. She put this money into a Medical School account at UCLA, according to the New York Times. The other physician was paid $700.00 to sign an affidavit summarizing the current research and concluding that unproven CT scan screening would not be advisable: the TImes reported that this doctor returned his affidavit money, but did not indicate whether it was before or after the controversy arose. Our conclusion: doctors can make a lot of money outside their medical practice when drugs and medical equipment are thrown in the mix.