Observations Reality Check

Forget sponsorship and free trips—welcome to Pharmacare

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d8316 (Published 04 January 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:d8316
  1. Ray Moynihan, author, journalist and conjoint lecturer, University of Newcastle, Australia
  1. Ray.Moynihan{at}newcastle.edu.au

Drug companies are now helping prescribe how healthcare is designed and delivered

In matters medical, among the most salacious stories in Australia last year were revelations about healthcare officials being flown around the world, business class, courtesy of the global drug giants.1 Conferences in Paris, Milan, London, and Stockholm were among the destinations for the antipodean decision makers, who were also generously provided with accommodation. The practice was defended by the government but horrified consumer groups. The health economist Gavin Mooney described it as a “culture of bribery that needs to be stopped.”1

To those with quaint notions of independent policy making in the public interest it seemed bizarre that health department officials were accepting largesse from companies that were simultaneously negotiating sales with the same department. Government acceptance of this corporate influence peddling seemed stranger than fiction. But a recent warming of relations between the drug industry and the NHS in England well and truly eclipses the sponsored trips for jet setting colonials.

Forget sponsorship: those charged with running the health system have started collaborating with drug makers to manage …

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