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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 15824

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: Journal Article

Rodwin MA.
Physicians' conflicts of interest. The limitations of disclosure
NEJM 1989 Nov 16; 321:(20):1405-1408


The most frequently proposed means to counter physicians’ conflicts of interest is their disclosure. Nevertheless, the rationale for disclosure and its anticipated effects are rarely examined critically. There has been little discussion of what must be disclosed and to whom, the manner of presentation, or measures to ensure compliance. This article examines disclosure policies in four other contexts – medical informed consent, consumer-protection laws, disclosure by lawyers to clients, and disclosure by government officials – and their implications and limitations as models for disclosing physicians’ conflicts of interest.


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What these howls of outrage and hurt amount to is that the medical profession is distressed to find its high opinion of itself not shared by writers of [prescription] drug advertising. It would be a great step forward if doctors stopped bemoaning this attack on their professional maturity and began recognizing how thoroughly justified it is.
- Pierre R. Garai (advertising executive) 1963