Last week, the British Medical Journal pubished an excellent op-ed titled “Conflict of Interest Bingo” by Daniel S Goldberg, assistant professor in the Department of Bioethics & Interdisciplinary Studies in the Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University.
The op-ed not only makes excellent points; it also includes a fun conflict of interest “bingo card.”
- “After reading the latest news story on a commercial industry’s partnership with academic scientists, I grew tired enough of seeing the same (to my mind) poor rationalizations for the permissibility of such an arrangement to create a handy conflict of interest bingo chart.”
- “What bothers me is not the legitimate disputes on the ethical permissibility of conflicts of interest (COIs) in general. That is, reasonable people of good conscience can, to my mind, disagree on when and whether COIs pass ethical muster. What I find most frustrating is the extent to which leading physicians and scientists whose profession seems to require a commitment to some kind of evidence based practice are unaware of the best evidence on motivated bias. This literature is robust and well developed. And the comments that I often see and hear (which are also well-represented in the literature on COIs) indicate to me that the speakers are almost totally unaware of what the evidence on motivated bias actually demonstrates.”
- “It is not credible to claim that a clinician’s virtue is adequate to protect against influence on prescribing practices. It is not credible to claim that a scientist’s disclosure of relationships with commercial industry is adequate to prevent manipulation of the knowledge produced from a study.”
- “Where physicians and scientists choose to enter into relationships with commercial entities, they should do so with the same commitment to evidence based practice that they honor in their clinical and scientific work. That commitment requires an admission that the relationship is in fact very likely to affect their clinical practice and/or the scientific study or inquiry being performed. As noted above, such an admission does not necessarily imply ethical impropriety. One might argue for a variety of reasons that even given the well documented finding that relationships with commercial industry are extremely likely to change the physician/scientist’s behavior, such relationships are nonetheless morally justified. But the factual premise of such claims ought to be grounded in what the best evidence on motivated bias actually shows.”