Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Conflicts of Interest

The device industry and payments to doctors

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 07 December 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6182
  1. Sophie Arie, journalist
  1. sarie{at}

A new voluntary code bans medical devices and diagnostics companies from directly paying doctors to attend educational events. Sophie Arie reports

Devices and diagnostics companies across Europe will no longer be allowed to pay doctors directly to attend third party educational conferences, under new rules designed to dispel concerns about possible conflicts of interest.

MedTech Europe, the umbrella group for medical technology companies across Europe, says that by stopping direct sponsorship for educational events, the industry is going one step further than the drug industry, which has agreed to declare all such payments, not to stop them.

“They [pharma] say as long as it’s transparent the public can judge if it’s a conflict of interest,” said Aline Lautenberg, director of legal and compliance at MedTech Europe told The BMJ. “We say there are certain conflicts of interest that maybe we should prohibit happening. Transparency is not enough.”

The change is a key element in a new European-wide code of conduct which members approved at a vote on 2 December.1 Under the code, neutral organisations, such as professional bodies or hospitals, would act as intermediaries, distributing grants from industry so that healthcare professionals can attend conferences where they learn about the latest products and industry developments.

“A doctor would not know …

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