Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

News

Collaboration with drug industry won’t affect clinical decisions, says new guide

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e2489 (Published 02 April 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2489

Rapid Response:

Re: Collaboration with drug industry won’t affect clinical decisions, says new guide

Rogers et al [1] are right, this is indeed disappointing, and equally it is disappointing that the only comment so far is from a group of Australian academics: no thunderous editorial from the BMJ despite its avowed commitment to academic independence and journal ethics. And, moreover, it all comes endorsed by the BMJ's parent organisation the BMA. It also reminds me of the initiative undertaken by the editor the Lancet at the beginning of 2008 [2], and I seem to remember that that did not fare well. However, that was an initiative to consult the medical profession, whereas this seems to be an attempt to change culture from the top. Why bother to ask after all: you might have to listen to well reasoned answers?

Not only is this very unwise but with barely a word being said it has now become official ideology, and we can only expect as a result a further excess of grief. It will be ordinary citizens who will pay both from their pockets and with their lives. As JK Galbraith warned in 1999 [3]:

"Take the common outcry about corporate welfare. Here the private firm, as it is called, receives a public subsidy for its product or service. But what is called corporate welfare is a minor detail. Far more important is the full-fledged takeover by private industry of public decision-making and government spending."

In 13 years we ought to have learnt many lessons, but instead we seem to have surrendered any kind of scepticism whatsoever. And, of course, what we have is not a fee market but a captive one.

[1] Rogers et al 'Re: Collaboration with drug industry won’t affect clinical decisions, says new guide'BMJ Rapid Responses 16 April 2012 http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e2489?tab=responses

[2] Annabel Ferriman 'Royal college sets up working party to improve relations between doctors and drug industry'BMJ2008;336doi: 10.1136/bmj.39428.617431.DB(Published 3 January 2008)

[3] JK Galbraith 'Free Market Fraud', The Progressive, January 1999 http://www.progressive.org/mag_galbraith0199

Competing interests: No competing interests

18 April 2012
John Stone
UK Editor
AgeofAutism.com
London N22