Editorials

No more free lunches

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.326.7400.1155 (Published 29 May 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:1155
  1. Kamran Abbasi, deputy editor,
  2. Richard Smith, editor
  1. BMJ
  2. BMJ

    Patients will benefit from doctors and drug companies disentangling

    Free pens and pizza lunches. Sponsored conferences and compromised medical education. Courtesy golf and unaffordable holidays. Thought leaders and ghost writers. These are the trappings of doctors and drug companies being entwined in an embrace of avarice and excess, an embrace that distorts medical information and patient care. An article in this theme issue of the BMJ identifies 16 ways in which doctors are entangled with the drug industry.1 You can probably identify more. The issue explores the extent of this relationship, its effects on research, its influence on prescribing, and the consequences for patients. Our central argument is that doctors, drug companies, and most importantly patients would all benefit from greater distance between doctors and drug companies.

    It does of course take two to entangle, and we hope that nobody will see this theme issue as anti-drug company. Virtually all of the new drugs developed in the past 60 years—drugs that have transformed medicine—have been either developed or manufactured by drug companies.2 Doctors and drug companies must work together, but doctors do not need to be banqueted, transported in luxury, put up in the best hotels, and educated by drug companies. The result is bias in the decisions made about patient care. Drug companies …

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