Intended for healthcare professionals


Accepting commercial sponsorship

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 11 September 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:653

Disclosure helps—but is not a panacea

  1. Lisa A Bero, associate professor (
  1. Clinical Pharmacy and Health Policy, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143-0936, USA

    Earlier this summer the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health published a report describing its policies towards accepting industry sponsorship.1 The ethics advisory committee that wrote the report was formed in response to controversy surrounding the college's acceptance and lack of disclosure of sponsorship from Nestlé, a manufacturer of breast milk substitutes. The acceptance of the money from Nestlé was hotly debated among college members because breast milk substitutes are associated with infant deaths in developing countries and do not provide the same health advantages as breast feeding. The college voted 73% in favour of continuing to accept sponsorship from baby food manufacturers but recommended that it should define criteria for ethical sponsorship. An examination of the college's resulting report and its recommendations may offer some help to other organisations struggling with the same issue.

    Overwhelming evidence exists that single source sponsorship is associated with outcomes favourable to the sponsor's product.24 Although most documentation of industry influence on research concerns the pharmaceutical and tobacco industries, other types of …

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