It is hard to avoid noticing that few, if any, of the regulatory measures currently in development are directed by physicians or the medical profession.
Explore This IssueApril 2009
There is little doubt that recent high-profile stories revealing the financial relationships between physicians and industry have served as a wake-up call to both medicine and the public at large. Abolishing interaction between physicians and industry might seem to be a simple way to resolve the problem of conflict of interest. But such an approach is not realistic and could short-sightedly limit the benefits of physician interaction with industry. Our challenge is to balance the potential synergies that these interactions can enable, while maintaining the professionalism and independence that is essential to the practice of medicine. Complete disclosure of financial relationships serves as a starting point. Disclosure, however, is not enough. It is the steps taken after disclosure that remain most crucial. Once financial relationships are openly declared, the question remains, What is the appropriate mechanism to adopt in order to minimize the potential for bias? This question should be seriously considered by organized medicine if we intend to remain a viable part of this conversation. In the end, the answer should be simple: The real key to success as we move forward is vigilance on the part of medicine to act selflessly as the advocate for the patient.
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