Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 541–553 | Cite as

Health Professionals “Make Their Choice”: Pharmaceutical Industry Leaders’ Understandings of Conflict of Interest

  • Quinn GrundyEmail author
  • Lisa Tierney
  • Christopher Mayes
  • Wendy Lipworth
Original Research


Conflicts of interest, stemming from relationships between health professionals and the pharmaceutical industry, remain a highly divisive and inflammatory issue in healthcare. Given that most jurisdictions rely on industry to self-regulate with respect to its interactions with health professionals, it is surprising that little research has explored industry leaders’ understandings of conflicts of interest. Drawing from in-depth interviews with ten pharmaceutical industry leaders based in Australia, we explore the normalized and structural management of conflicts of interest within pharmaceutical companies. We contrast this with participants’ unanimous belief that the antidote to conflicts of interest with health professionals were “informed consumers.” It is, thus, unlikely that a self-regulatory approach will be successful in ensuring ethical interactions with health professionals. However, the pharmaceutical industry’s routine and accepted practices for disclosing and managing employees’ conflicts of interest could, paradoxically, serve as an excellent model for healthcare.


Conflict of interest Pharmaceutical industry Disclosure Professionalism Neoliberalism 


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Copyright information

© Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Pty Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Quinn Grundy
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lisa Tierney
    • 2
  • Christopher Mayes
    • 2
  • Wendy Lipworth
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of Pharmacy, Charles Perkins CentreThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Sydney Health Ethics, School of Public HealthThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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