Pharma has ‘no legitimate role’ in evaluating medicines, says BMJ chief


By Tessa Hoffman

19 Oct 2017

The pharmaceutical industry’s role in drug evaluation is ‘distorting’ the evidence, The BMJ editor-in-chief Dr Fiona Godlee has told a new podcast launched by Cochrane Australia.

The industry “doesn’t have a legitimate role” in evaluating drugs, beyond the initial development stages, The BMJ chief told The Recommended Dose, which is hosted by health researcher and journalist Ray Moynihan.

“We shouldn’t have people with such a huge vested interest in the outcome involved so closely as they are. I think we have to accept the fact that the current system is delivering distorted information,” said Dr Godlee, who hinted The BMJ may look to campaign on the issue.

“In an ideal world – and it’s a world we’d like to be moving towards – we wouldn’t have this irreducible conflict of interest in research that is effecting people’s health.

“People who dream of a better future say, well why couldn’t we have a pot into which industry, if they want to market their drugs or license them, put a proportion of their profits and that money would be used to evaluate their drugs in an independent and transparent way.”

In the podcast she also describes moves within The BMJ to become more transparent about its own revenue from industry advertising, and stresses the critical importance of pharmaceuticals within healthcare and the need for collaboration with industry to help produce new medicines.

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