Table of Contents  
EDITORIAL
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-2  

Industry and the medical profession: Sleeping with the enemy


Department of Community Medicine, Padmashree Dr. D. Y. Patil Medical College, Hospital & Research Centre, Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pimpri, Pune, India

Date of Web Publication14-Mar-2013

Correspondence Address:
Amitav Banerjee
Department of Community Medicine, Padmashree Dr. D. Y. Patil Medical College, Hospital & Research Centre, Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pimpri, Pune
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0975-2870.108622

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How to cite this article:
Banerjee A. Industry and the medical profession: Sleeping with the enemy. Med J DY Patil Univ 2013;6:1-2

How to cite this URL:
Banerjee A. Industry and the medical profession: Sleeping with the enemy. Med J DY Patil Univ [serial online] 2013 [cited 2021 Apr 17];6:1-2. Available from: https://www.mjdrdypu.org/text.asp?2013/6/1/1/108622

There is much concern on the adverse impact of high-pressure marketing by the pharmaceutical industry on objective decision making by the medical profession. [1] These concerns have prompted the Medical Council of India (MCI) to issue amendment notification to curb unprofessional conduct by members of the medical profession. [2],[3] The ground realities seem to be driving a consensus toward a more pragmatic approach in framing code of conduct for interaction between the industry and the medical profession. [4],[5],[6]

Down the ages, industry and the profession have collaborated. Pasteur's work on rabies vaccine led to the rise of the vaccine industry, and Fleming's discovery of penicillin which changed medical history and spawned a huge pharmaceutical industry are shining examples of such collaboration. There have also been shameful misconducts by members of the profession for personal gains, which include fudging of trial results to favor the sponsors and the prescription of drugs unnecessarily to patients. It is the latter which has precipitated a call for total ban on physician-industry interaction, while those who support the physician-industry collaboration give examples of the spectacular advances resulting out of it. [7] These two extreme views have polarized the debate, while the need of the hour is to regulate the large gray zone which falls between these two extremes.

Presently, according to a Hudson Institute Report, [8] the contribution of pharmaceutical companies for global HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and other infectious diseases is substantial (over $2 billion). When compared with the annual budgets of government and international health agencies (WHO, UNICEF, etc.), the combined aid of pharmaceutical corporations rivals and even exceeds those of public sources.

The future will see more and more application of technology in diverse fields such as surgical robotics, telemedicine, and disease diagnostic software. These technological developments will require medical professionals to collaborate not only with the pharmaceutical industry but also with other industries such as engineering and information technology. It is not only politics which makes strange bedfellows. For, in spite of various conflicts of interest which the interface between industry and the profession is likely to generate, sleeping with the enemy is inevitable because of the following reasons:

  1. Medical progress is good and benefits mankind.
  2. Industry is responsible for a high proportion of medical progress.
  3. Industry-driven progress requires the active participation of doctors.
  4. Insulating the medical profession from the industry will result in teaching tomorrow's doctors yesterday's medicine. [9]
There are three ways in which we can build healthier relationships between doctors and drug companies without becoming victims of seduction as a result of high-pressure marketing.

  1. Teaching physicians "promotional literacy" so as to distinguish between sound clinical information (good touch) and promotional materials (bad touch). They should be able to critically appraise the role of a vaccine or drug in a given situation rather than be completely swayed by promotional measures. The guest editorial in this issue elegantly illustrates this point with the example of promotion of pneumococcal vaccine by the vaccine industry.
  2. Encouraging "good relationship practices" which encourage scientific interaction leading to enhanced skill that will benefit the patient and community without the possibility of the interaction being viewed as an inappropriate activity.
  3. Ensuring "transparency" from both parties, while allowing healthy networking.


 
  References Top

1.Anand AC. Professional Conferences, Unprofessional Conduct. MJAFI 2011;67:1-6. Available from: http://medind.nic.in/maa/t11/i1/maat11i1p2.pdf. [Last accessed on 2012 Nov 12].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.Medical Council of India, Amendment Notification, New Delhi; 2009. Available from: http://www.bpni.org/News/Ethics-Regulations-MCI.pdf. [Last accessed on 2012 Nov 12].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.Nagral S, Roy N. The Medical Council of India guidelines on industry-physician relationship: Breaking the conspiracy of silence. Natl Med J India 2010;23:69-70.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.Sinha K, Ghildiyal S. Government may lift ban on pharma firm-sponsored tours for doctors. Pune: Times of India; 2012. Available from: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-11-01/india/34856424_1_pharma-companies-pharma-industry-pharmaceutical-industry. [Last accessed on 2012 Nov 12].  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.Brody H. The ethics of drug development and promotion: The need for a wider view. Med Care 2012;50:910-2.  Back to cited text no. 5
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6.European Society of Cardiology Board. Relations between professional medical associations and the health-care industry, concerning scientific communication and continuing medical education: A policy statement from the European Society of Cardiology. Acta Cardiol 2012;67:379-90.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.Singh N, Bush R, Dalsingh M, Shortell CK. New paradigms for physician-industry relations: Overview and application for SVS members. J Vasc Surg 2011;54(3 Suppl):26S-30S.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.Adelman CC, Norris J. A Review of Pharmaceutical Company Contributions: HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and Other Infectious Diseases. Hudson Institute Center for Science in Public Policy, Washington DC; 2004. p. 1-8. Available from: http://www.hudson.org/files/publications/AdelmanNorrisPharmCoReview.pdf. [Last accessed on 2012 Nov 12].  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.D'Arcy E, Moynihan R. Can the Relationship between Doctors and Drug Companies Ever Be a Healthy One? PLoS Med 2009;6:e1000075. Available from: http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000075. [Last accessed 2012 Nov 13].  Back to cited text no. 9
    




 

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