Medical conflicts of interest: when a declaration isn't enoughBMJ 2018; 363 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k4660 (Published 06 November 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k4660
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When I invented a medical device that cools human beings in an emergency, I was still working full-time as a Consultant in Emergency Medicine. It was absolutely obvious to me that once development was complete and we had a device to sell, research done on the device would not be done by me, simply because purchasers would perceive the conflict of interest. This would immediately reduce the usefulness of the research even if I was scrupulous in declaring interest.
We had a dilemma with early case reports, as the only people who knew enough about the device to write the article worked for the company. However, we were not involved in the use of the device. Our conflicts of interest and funding source were therefore declared. However, for more formal studies we have chosen researchers outside the UK to avoid any possible bias. Their papers will declare support from the company, but their study design and their conclusions will be their own. I still work part-time in the NHS and have declared my interest to my Trust.
Competing interests: I am Medical Director of a company that manufactures a medical device.
Investigators are required to declare conflicts related to their research, the emphasis has traditionally been on transparency . It is evident for a reviewer of scientific literature that the quality of argumentation in some areas of medical and biological research has deteriorated during the past decades. Dubious publication series have been continued without making reference to the published criticism. Another tendency is that substances without proven effects and questionable treatments have been advertized, and corresponding products marketed in the guise of evidence-based medications. Scientific publications are needed for the registration of such drugs and treatments to obtain permissions for the practical use; such publications continue appearing, sometimes being of questionable reliability. In Russia, the marketing of placebos in the guise of evidence-based medications is quite usual; and artificial theoretic concepts are sometimes used for that purpose [2-5]. The criticism has partly remained unnoticed or has been replied to with arguments that have not been commented on.
1. Torjesen I. Medical conflicts of interest: when a declaration isn't enough. BMJ 2018;363:k4660
2. Jargin SV. Glycosaminoglycans and their precursors in osteoarthritis. Open Veterinary Journal 2018 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/327136697_Glycosaminoglycans_an...
3. Comment on "Use of Carnosine for Oxidative Stress Reduction in Different Pathologies". Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2016;2016:5250386
4. Meldonium (Mildronate): Primum nоn nocere. Pharmacol Res. 2016;114:294
5. Invasive procedures with questionable indications: Prevention of a negligent custom. J Surg Open Access 2017;3(5).
Competing interests: No competing interests