Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


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

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (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

I agree with Cattaneo et al [1]. In 2005 Fiona Godlee responded to the seminal House of Commons Health Committee report on the influence of the pharmaceutical industry [2,3]:

"The power of drug companies to buy influence over every key group in health care—doctors, charities, patient groups, journalists, politicians—has clearly shocked a UK parliamentary committee...It should shock us all. Can we console ourselves that companies' lavish spending on research and marketing, which far outstrips spending on independent research and drug information, leads to truly innovative treatments? No, says the committee's report. Can we rely on regulatory bodies to keep the industry in check? No, again."

And yet today there is not so much at the bat of an eyelid from BMJ over BMA's endorsement of this remarkable new document. What we seem to have is complete and utter capitulation before the industry, and a new won naievety about their intent.

Meanwhile, I note that Dr Cattaneo writes on behalf of the Italian equivalent of No Free Lunch [1] and there has been no statement weeks on from the British body. Its spokesman, Des Spence [4], has been a weekly BMJ columnist now for more than five years. And if you go to their news page it tells you to look at BMJ [5]. The dog has steadfastly not barked.

[1] Cattaneo et al 'Re: Collaboration with drug industry will affect clinical decisionsns, says new guide' BMJ Rapid Responses 22 April 2012

[2] House of Commons Health Committee 'The Influence of the Pharmaceutical Industry' Fourth Report of Session 2004-5

[3] Fiona Godlee 'Say know to the free lunch' BMJ 14 April 2005

[4] About No Free Lunch

[5] No Free Lunch Newsroom

Competing interests: I do not benefit from industry largesse in any way.

23 April 2012
John Stone
UK Editor
London N22