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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

Rapid Response:

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

A short article in the BMJ reported a document apparently agreed by the BMA, the RCP, DOH and the RCGP among other signatories. It is called “Guidance on collaboration between health care professionals and the pharmaceutical industry". We have waited before commenting to see if any of the signatories are prepared to comment on this document but no response appears to be forth-coming. This is an extremely flawed document containing a number of assertions not backed up by evidence. These include:-

“Healthcare and industry professionals are able to manage their relationships with each other without compromising clinical decision making"
There is a considerable body of evidence shows the more contact a clinician with drug reps the less evidence based their prescribing1,2.

"Industry plays a valid and important role in the provision of medical education",
This directly contradicts the recent RCP report on medical education and is also in conflict with the 2005 House of Commons report on the relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and medical education3.

“Information about industry-sponsored trials is publically available”
There have been numerous cases over recent years where this had patently not been the case, eg rosiglitazoneand tamiflu4.

We call on those who have signed this document, in particular the BMA, RCP, DOH and RCGP to explain their reasons for endorsing this document and to disassociate themselves from it.

1.Spurling GK, Mansfield PR, Montgomery BD, Lexchin J, Doust J, Othman N, Vitry AI. Information from pharmaceutical companies and the quality, quantity, and cost of physicians' prescribing: a systematic review. PLoS Med 2010; 7(10): e1000352.
2. Lexchin J, Bero LA, Djulbegovic B, Clark O. Pharmaceutical industry sponsorship and research outcome and quality: systematic review. BMJ 2003; 326(7400): 1167-70.
3. "The Influence of the Pharmaceutical Industry". Report of the House of Commons Health Committee. 5 April 2005
4. Rosiglitazone: What went wrong. 2010, BMJ, 341, pp530-4.

Competing interests: JM and MK and founding members of Healthy Skepticism UK.

09 May 2012
Jennifer McAughey
GP
Merav Kliner
Health Skepticism UK
Belfast