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One of world’s most influential doctors urges action to avoid evidence being ‘distorted’ by pharmaceutical industry

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One of world’s most influential doctors urges action to avoid evidence being ‘distorted’ by pharmaceutical industry

The BMJ’s Editor-in-chief tells Cochrane’s The Recommended Dose podcast that drug industry has no role in evaluating medicines.

In a new podcast launched today from Cochrane Australia, The BMJ’s Editor-in-chief Dr Fiona Godlee says “industry doesn’t have a legitimate role” in evaluating drugs, beyond initial development stages. “We shouldn’t have people with such a huge vested interest in the outcome involved so closely as they are. I think we have to accept the fact that the current system is delivering distorted information.”

Cochrane Australia’s Recommended Dose is hosted by multi-award-winning journalist and Bond University health researcher Dr Ray Moynihan and produced by Cochrane, one of the world’s largest and most trusted independent health research organizations.

The first episode features a candid conversation with Dr Fiona Godlee, who for 12 years has headed one of the oldest and most respected medical journals in the world, The BMJ. “In an ideal world – and it’s a world we’d like to be moving towards – we wouldn’t have this irreducible conflict of interest in research that is effecting people’s health,” Dr Godlee told The Recommended Dose. “People who dream of a better future say, well why couldn’t we have a pot into which industry, if they want to market their drugs or license them, put a proportion of their profits and that money would be used to evaluate their drugs in an independent and transparent way.”

Asked if The BMJ was contemplating a new campaign to essentially re-write the relationship
between health professions and the pharmaceutical and other industries, Dr Godlee said: “I think
that’s where we are heading.”

In the wide-ranging interview, Dr Godlee talks about moves within The BMJ to become more
transparent about its own revenue from industry advertising, initiatives to seek out more
independent commentators, the campaign to engage more with patients, and the possible idea of a
BMJ for the public. Importantly she also stresses the critical importance of pharmaceuticals within
healthcare, and the need for collaboration with industry to help produce new medicines.

Asked about Cochrane, Dr Godlee emphasized the value of Cochrane’s systematic reviews of the
evidence about what works and what doesn’t, and praised it for “changing the culture” within
healthcare by pushing for improved transparency and quality in research.

Alongside her professional views, she lets podcast listeners in on what drives and inspires her to
achieve so much in her influential role at the helm of one of the most popular and
prestigious medical science journals.

To listen to Dr Godlee’s interview visit australia.cochrane.org/trd. Our brief explainer episode is available now on Soundcloud and episode 1 with Dr Godlee will be available from 7pm BST/5am AEDT on Thursday 19 October. Visit australia.cochrane.org/trd