Letters Industry sponsorship hits the headlines

RCGP’s reply to medicine and the media article on industry sponsorship

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i6003 (Published 16 November 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i6003
  1. Maureen Baker, chair of council
  1. Royal College of General Practitioners, London NW1 2FB, UK
  1. chair-rcgp{at}rcgp.org.uk

I am disappointed and rather surprised by your article about the Royal College of General Practitioners’ annual conference.1 To say my speech was “largely overlooked” is incorrect—it received considerable coverage from national media on the day of the speech and was warmly received, with a standing ovation, by conference delegates.

The college—in common with similar health and medical organisations and medical journals such as yours—has a robust sponsorship policy that is fully in line with Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry guidelines. We have always reviewed our sponsorship arrangements periodically and are now planning to do this routinely.

Sponsorship by external companies generates income that is ploughed directly into our charitable work to support frontline GPs, such as our UK-wide Put Patients First: Back General Practice campaign. It also enables us to reduce delegate fees and offer bursaries and free places to trainees and other GPs who might otherwise be unable to attend.

This year in Harrogate we introduced a regulated and controlled access area, meaning that delegates could choose whether or not to engage with activities on the pharmaceutical stands. Notably, this area was not accessible by students or patient representatives.


  • Competing interests: None declared.


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