Winds of change: growing demands for transparency in the relationship between doctors and the pharmaceutical industry

Med J Aust. 2009 Sep 7;191(5):273-5. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2009.tb02783.x.


The relationship between medicine and the pharmaceutical industry in the United States is undergoing rapid and momentous change; US Senator Grassley has alleged inadequate disclosure of earnings from industry and lack of acknowledgement of conflicts of interest by leading academics. This article is based on the premise that it is not the relationship per se that is the problem, but rather how that relationship is enacted. The influential 2008 report of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has provided detailed recommendations on appropriate interactions between academic physicians and industry (eg, proscribing receipt of gifts including travel support, and proscribing speaking at industry-sponsored educational programs). Contrary to expectations, there has been widespread acceptance of such guidelines. In Australia, details of all industry-sponsored educational events are now listed on the Medicines Australia website. Australian doctors have no alternative but to drastically improve the transparency of their interactions with industry, both in terms of the remuneration received and disclosure of potential conflicts of interest. Australian universities should seriously consider developing recommendations similar to those of the AAMC.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Conflict of Interest*
  • Drug Industry / ethics*
  • Gift Giving / ethics
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations / ethics*
  • Physicians / ethics*