Letters

Conflict of interest: Sometimes consultancies cannot be disclosed

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.308.6926.471a (Published 12 February 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:471
  1. J Garrow

    EDITOR, - Richard Smith rightly says that disclosure is a good remedy for conflict of interest. However, academics who choose to advise industry usually have to sign a secrecy agreement to ensure that commercially valuable information is not passed to a competitor. Sometimes the fact that firm A has employed an expert in field B as a consultant is itself commercially sensitive, so the secrecy agreement specifies that the existence of the consultancy should also be kept secret. For obvious reasons I do not know how often this happens, but I have twice had such an approach myself. I think it is important that academics who intend to contribute to the scientific literature as authors, editors, or referees should not accept consultancies which they cannot publicly disclose.

    References

    Speakers should declare financial support

    1. G Watt

      EDITOR, - With regard to avoiding potential conflicts of interest,1 I was impressed recently by a procedure used at a satellite meeting of the American Heart Association. The meeting was recognised for the continuing education that American doctors are required to undertake for reaccreditation. At the start of the meeting every participant was given a sheet of paper listing the speakers and any financial support they received that might lead to a conflict of interest. For example, it …

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