Confronting Conflicts of Interest

It seems that as we move towards a world in which physicians and corporate pharmaceutical companies become ever more intertwined, we have to look at how to deal with the issues surrounding the conflicts of interest. As Thompson points out, the greater the value of the secondary interest, meaning the amount of financial gain, the greater the probability that a physician’s decision making process is distorted in an unfavorable manner to the person being treated or taught. As Thompson shows us, the dialogue surrounding conflicts of interest is rather limited and its exploration is a difficult and sensitive issue.
To hold trust in a researcher, teacher or your physician is usually assumed. As they are professionals you trust they have your best interests at heart, therefore, in a way full disclosure from these people is something that you might expect. Thus its undamaging to have a system of rules that make disclosure necessary and welcomed. After all, if your physician has unbiased motives this process should have no effect on the doctor-patient relationship. It is unwise for a governmental body to implement this process because as Thompson shows, large bodies make accountability and accessibility difficult. Therefore, in order to appropriately deal with the issues surrounding conflict of interests we must face it head on using clarity, honesty and a collection of small independent bodies that insure pharmaceutical money is not influencing decisions.

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