Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Education And Debate

Who pays for the pizza? Redefining the relationships between doctors and drug companies. 1: Entanglement

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.326.7400.1189 (Published 29 May 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:1189

Rapid Response:

Influenced by the drug companies?

Sir,

As all encompassing the reach of the drug companies is, we as health
care professionals have it within our power to prevent untoward influence
by these companies.

The ability to say "no" and look at evidence sceptically is one of
the most important things in medicine that has been drilled in during time
at Medical School.

If drug companies want to come and give us a free lunch and promote
their drug, so what? If we are weak minded enough to let this influence us
then we are we are not putting what we have learnt into practice from our
epidiemiology lectures at all. In the evaluating the evidence of studies
funded by drug companies we all know that these studies are going to have
an inherent bias and thus must be taken with a pinch of salt.

The actions of US medical students are commendable in banning any
hospitality from drug companies towards medical students in an attempt to
prevent bias. However this seems a "hammer to crack a nut" solution.
Surely it would it not be easier for medical students to critically
evaluate the evidence that these drug companies present at free lunches
and challenge their evidence for their products?

Surely as responsible, mature and intelligent adults we have it
within our power not to fall for the "snake oil" salesmanship sometimes
used by the drug companies?

Competing interests:  
I was taken out for dinner by Phillips Medical Systems last month at the British Society of Nuclear Medicine Annual Conference. As I will not be buying a PET or CT scanner in the next 20 years, this may be of lesser influence.

Competing interests: No competing interests

30 May 2003
Andrew D Beggs
Final Year Medical Student
Guys, KIngs & St. Thomas' School of Medicine, London SE1