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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 2256

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

Jureidini J, Mansfield PR.
Avoiding competing interests
BMJ 2002 Dec 27; 325:(7377):1375


We congratulate you for showing leadership for all medical journals by publishing the competing interests of your editors, editorial board, and group executive. However we are concerned that your suggestion that “there isn’t anything wrong in having competing interests” might be taken out of the context provided by your comments about human vulnerability. We agree that there is nothing automatically wrong with competing interests. Even drug company employees can do great research if they take care to minimize bias. However the evidence suggests that competing interests are often harmful and that perceptions of personal invulnerability are a major source of error. As you wrote, “bias is pervasive and acts on us unconsciously”. Consequently, anyone who claims to be immune from the adverse effects of competing interests should be treated with healthy skepticism. Competing interests vary. We are proud to disclose our interest in advancing Healthy Skepticism Inc ( We are not proud to have accepted gifts from drug companies in the past. We now feel that was a mistake. Consequently, we have signed the NoFreeLunch pledge ( to reduce our dependence on drug companies. Doctors can do better than just declaring competing interests; many competing interests can be avoided altogether.

*letter to the editor United Kingdom Australia relationship between medical profession and industry conflict-of-interest declaration of interests perceived immunity Healthy Skepticism NoFreeLunch ETHICAL ISSUES IN PROMOTION: GIFT GIVING ETHICAL ISSUES IN PROMOTION: LINKS BETWEEN HEALTH PROFESSIONALS AND INDUSTRY INFLUENCE OF PROMOTION: PRESCRIBING, DRUG USE


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Email a Friend influence multinational corporations effectively, the efforts of governments will have to be complemented by others, notably the many voluntary organisations that have shown they can effectively represent society’s public-health interests…
A small group known as Healthy Skepticism; formerly the Medical Lobby for Appropriate Marketing) has consistently and insistently drawn the attention of producers to promotional malpractice, calling for (and often securing) correction. These organisations [Healthy Skepticism, Médecins Sans Frontières and Health Action International] are small, but they are capable; they bear malice towards no one, and they are inscrutably honest. If industry is indeed persuaded to face up to its social responsibilities in the coming years it may well be because of these associations and others like them.
- Dukes MN. Accountability of the pharmaceutical industry. Lancet. 2002 Nov 23; 360(9346)1682-4.