Intended for healthcare professionals

Head To Head

Should the drug industry work with key opinion leaders? No

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 19 June 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:1405
  1. Giovanni A Fava, professor of clinical psychology
  1. 1University of Bologna, Italy
  1. giovanniandrea.fava{at}

Industry commonly works with experts to put across its message. Charlie Buckwell (doi: 10.1136/bmj.39541.702870.59) believes that such interaction is essential for medical advancement, but Giovanni Fava argues that it risks scientific integrity

The proliferating connections between doctors and the drug industry have brought the credibility of clinical medicine to an unprecedented crisis. Corporate actions that have placed profit over public health have become regular news. High profile examples include the misrepresentation of research on rofecoxib and on the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in children. Recently, two respected scientists who work for a drug company wrote that the problem of conflict of interest “could well erode the credibility of the entire enterprise of academic medicine, if not properly and promptly addressed.”1 2

Industry objectives

The game is clear: to get as close as possible to universal prescribing of a drug by manipulating evidence and withholding data. A recent paper illustrates how selective publication of trials of antidepressants exaggerated their efficacy.3 Thirty seven of …

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