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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

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

Dear Editor,
Like our Australian colleagues, we were puzzled by the “neutral” reporting on the Ethical Standards in Health and Life Sciences Group’s “Guidance on collaboration between healthcare professionals and the pharmaceutical industry” by the BMJ.1 This was a very unexpected uncritical report by the journal we all associate with the “Who pays for the pizza?” and “How to dance with porcupines” articles and covers.2-4 Possible explanations:
• The wind is blowing in favour of the industry, as shown by other episodes of the same kind under the current UK government?5
• The same neoliberal wind shakes the WHO flag, and apparently finds little resistance; why should it not hit the BMJ?6
• That’s the way things are going even at the United Nations?7
• The Guidance carries the BMA logo, and it’s difficult to be critical towards one’s own mother?
We have no answer, but would expect one from the BMJ, not necessarily one of those listed above. Meanwhile, we agree with the arguments put forward by our Australian colleagues.

Adriano Cattaneo, on behalf of No Grazie Pago Io (www.nograziepagoio.it), the Italian equivalent of No Free Lunch
Maria Font, on behalf of Dialogo sui Farmaci*
Daniela Zanfi, on behalf of Informazioni sui Farmaci*
Nicola Magrini, on behalf of Pacchetti Informativi sui Farmaci*
* Italian drug bulletins belonging to the International Society of Drug Bulletins (ISDB)

1. Dyer C. Collaboration with drug industry won’t affect clinical decisions, says new guide. BMJ 2012;344:e2489
2. Moynihan R. Who pays for the pizza? Redefining the relationships between doctors and drug companies. 1: entanglement. BMJ 2003;326:1189-92
3. Moynihan R. Who pays for the pizza? Redefining the relationships between doctors and drug companies. 2: disentanglement. BMJ 2003;326:1193-6
4. Wager E. How to dance with porcupines: rules and guidelines on doctors' relations with drug companies. BMJ 2003;326:1196-8
5. Mayor S. Specialists condemn government’s obesity plan as too simplistic. BMJ 2011;343:d6688
6. Richter J. WHO Reform and Public Interest Safeguards: An Historical Perspective. Social Med 2012;6:141-50
7. Heath I. Seeming virtuous on chronic diseases. BMJ 2011;343:d4239

Competing interests: The authors of this letter are members of associations that promote a progressive disentanglement of health professionals from industry, or members of the editorial committees of independent Drug Bulletins

22 April 2012
Adriano Cattaneo
Epidemiologist
Maria Font, Daniela Zanfi, Nicola Magrini
Institute for Maternal and Child Health IRCCS Burlo Garofolo
Via dell'Istria 65/1, 34137 Trieste, Italy