Intended for healthcare professionals


Leadership by example: saying no to health industry board membership

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 29 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h5065
  1. David Rothman, professor
  1. 1Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons, New York, USA
  1. djr5{at}

Prohibition is the best way to safeguard scientific and clinical integrity

Although medicine came late to managing conflict of interest and promoting transparency, well after law, finance, and government, it now confronts many of the critical issues. Part of the impetus to change was externally driven, with state and federal legislation playing a key role in the United States. For example, US senator Charles Grassley led the initiative to compel drug and device companies to disclose all payments over $10 (£6.47; €8.95) to physicians and teaching hospitals, with the data accessible, name by name, on a public website.1 But part of the impetus also came from within medicine. Several medical school deans believed that cozy ties between industry and faculty violated professional standards.2 At the same time, medical researchers documented the extent and impact of these relations. In a linked paper (doi:10.1136/bmj.h4826) a study of this problem by Anderson and colleagues is an excellent case in point.3

The research into physician-industry ties helped alter attitudes and practices. Dozens of well designed articles refuted …

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