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Guidelines for collaboration with industry should be transparent

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 09 October 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6100
  1. Ben Goldacre, Wellcome Research Fellow in Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine,
  2. David Carroll, medical student, Queens University Belfast,
  3. Elizabeth Hall, foundation year 1 doctor, St Thomas’ Hospital, London
  1. ben.goldacre{at}

Ben Goldacre and colleagues on the failings of a defunct doctor-industry partnership

This week a secretive organisation representing almost all doctors in the UK seems to have disbanded, but even this much is hard to know. The Ethical Standards in Health and Life Sciences Group (ESHLSG)1 included most major medical professional bodies in the UK, co-chaired by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industries (ABPI) and the Royal College of Physicians. It produced two documents, on collaboration with the drug industry2 and clinical trial transparency,3 both of which were endorsed and co-badged by almost all leading medical organisations, Royal Colleges, faculties, and societies.

The ESHLSG’s positive claims about the benefits of industry sponsored education, and of seeing drug company sales representatives, were criticised almost immediately for going against the best available evidence on the impact of industry promotional activity.4 5 But much more worryingly, the ESHLSG documents make a series of factually incorrect claims about transparency and clinical trials, giving false reassurance on one of the biggest challenges for evidence based medicine today: the …

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