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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 19621

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

Menkes DB
Tackling conflicts of interest: Conflicts of interest and drug information
BMJ 2011 Sep 6;


Promoting access to unbiased, expert drug information has been the mission of the International Society of Drug Bulletins since 1986. Because member bulletins refuse money from the pharmaceutical industry, they typically run on tight budgets. Like the US Food and Drug Administration and BMJ, they must also reckon and manage authors’ and reviewers’ potential conflicts of interest.1 In a current survey, 28 responding bulletins endorse the importance of disclosure but vary in how conflicts, once declared or detected, are dealt with. The most stringent policy, endorsed by four bulletins, is to consider work only from authors known to lack conflicts.

The debate about whether journals should avoid or manage conflicts of interest2 has been advanced by evidence that disclosure alone fails to reduce bias reliably and may in some cases aggravate it.3 Disclosure and peer review are, however, essential to gauge the relevance of conflicts in particular cases. The debate clearly shows that we are better at judging the impact of others’ conflicts than the impact of our own.


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