Pharmaceutical industry exposure in our hospitals: the final frontier
The relationship between the medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry has changed considerably over the last two decades. While the days of expenses-paid overseas conferences and golf trips may be over, pharmaceutical company presence is still felt not only in private practice but also in our hospitals.
Some of these interactions benefit patients; in particular, industry-sponsored clinical trials and research studies in hospitals. Besides generating new evidence and drugs, patients who participate in clinical trials in hospitals appear to have better outcomes and lower mortality.1 However, there is a risk that industry sponsorship may unduly influence clinician researchers or the hospital itself. To reduce (but not eliminate) this risk, hospitals must comply with mandatory national research governance frameworks through the implementation of local policies and procedures, and researcher codes of conduct, overseen by research ethics committees.2
On the other hand, pharmaceutical company-sponsored medical education for doctors and students risks the presentation of biased evidence and subsequent poorer treatment choices for patients. All industry influence in hospitals should be transparently acknowledged and carefully examined in order to minimise potential harms.
Universities and hospitals have a mixed record when it comes to protecting doctors…