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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 3975

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

Relman AS.
Economic incentives in clinical investigation.
N Engl J Med 1989 Apr 6; 320:(14):933-4


Medical research is becoming commercialized and clinical investigators now find themselves in situations involving conflicts of interest. In particular, researchers are acquiring financial interests in the new drugs or clinical devices they are studying. Economic incentives can introduce subtle biases into the conduct, analysis or reporting of research results that may escape even careful peer review. The author reviews the two commonest justifications for economic incentivese for clinical investigators. All institutions sponsoring clinical research or employing clinical investigators should develop policies to deal with possible conflicts of interest.

*editorial/conflict of interest/drug company sponsored research/academic freedom/relationship between researchers, academic institutions and industry/REGULATION, CODES, GUIDELINES: ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS/SPONSORSHIP: RESEARCH Clinical Trials/economics* Commerce Motivation


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Cases of wilful misrepresentation are a rarity in medical advertising. For every advertisement in which nonexistent doctors are called on to testify or deliberately irrelevant references are bunched up in [fine print], you will find a hundred or more whose greatest offenses are unquestioning enthusiasm and the skill to communicate it.

The best defence the physician can muster against this kind of advertising is a healthy skepticism and a willingness, not always apparent in the past, to do his homework. He must cultivate a flair for spotting the logical loophole, the invalid clinical trial, the unreliable or meaningless testimonial, the unneeded improvement and the unlikely claim. Above all, he must develop greater resistance to the lure of the fashionable and the new.
- Pierre R. Garai (advertising executive) 1963