Why Disclosure is too Weak

The focus on disclosure as being the central remedy to conflicts of interest strikes me as being a fairly weak response to the problem. The author makes the point that, given the difficulty of discovering real motives it is ethically necessary to decide in advance to remove secondary interests. Essentially what is being claimed here is that when it comes to the issue of money, it is necessary not to give physicians and researchers the benefit of the doubt. I would tend to agree with this rule; while these are incredibly respected professions which would in most cases lead to the assumption that they deserve our trust, when it comes to the issue of money it is an unfortunate likelihood that most people can be corrupted (even those who are morally upright in the other aspects of their life).

However, having said this, it then becomes a little naïve to expect a physician or researcher who has become motivated by the wrong things to voluntarily and properly disclose all of the necessary information. This is especially complicated when considering the ethically directed defenses against disclosure and investigation which can be made: things like a right to privacy, and libertarian arguments such as a right to do as you wish with your own property. I think that a solution lies in a combination of professional and governmental regulation, because this would allow for a legal power to enforce disclosure, which is unavailable through other methods. While the legal process may be long and complicated the ability to establish precedents and standards would supply a more long-term and reflective solution.       

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