Health Professionals “Make Their Choice”: Pharmaceutical Industry Leaders’ Understandings of Conflict of Interest
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.
KeywordsConflict of interest Pharmaceutical industry Disclosure Professionalism Neoliberalism
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