Is the government writing your next hypertension guidelines?

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The release of the latest report from the Joint National Committee on Hypertension (JNC-8) has been delayed for several years.  It’s already been a decade since the prior report was issued.

Until recently the reason for the delay was obscure, but in the March issue of Cardiology News inside information is provided by cardiologist Sidney Smith.  The UNC professor of medicine, who has made a career out of writing practice guidelines for the American Heart Association, is a senior writer on the JNC-8 panel and this is what he had to say:

The delay has been due in large part to an unprecedented degree of prerelease review by numerous government agencies at a multitude of levels. This extensive and time-consuming advance scrutiny was instituted mainly because many health officials felt blindsided by the publication of the U.S. Preventive Health Services Task Force controversial mammography guidelines, which kicked up a hornet’s nest of criticism in the breast cancer and public health communities. Government officials don’t ever want to be caught by surprise like that again, explained Dr. Smith, professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

That’s right.  There is nothing more frustrating for a government official than to be caught by surprise by a body of medical experts sifting through scientific data for the benefit of practitioners.  The report must first be approved by the authorities!

We suppose that when the government pays for so much of health care and medical research, it’s only natural it would try to ensure that scientists have the national interest in mind, No?

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