Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Research Ethics

Medical conflicts of interest: when a declaration isn't enough

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: (Published 06 November 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k4660

Re: Medical conflicts of interest: when a declaration isn't enough


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.

13 November 2018
Rowland L Cottingham
Medical Director
BodyChillz Ltd
The Beehive, Gatwick RH6 0PA.