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Kathlyn Stone

UK Physicians and Med Students Object to 'Bad Guidelines'

By February 5, 2013

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Bad Guidelines

Self-serving assertions made by an industry trade group, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), in a "guidance" document published last year and signed by many prominent UK medical groups and government entities is getting some resistance in the form of a campaign to encourage the signers to withdraw their support.

The Lancet withdrew its support for the document -- "Guidance on collaboration between healthcare professionals and the pharmaceutical industry" last week and earned a scribble-through on the list of signers which include top medical colleges and government health departments in England as well as the governments of Scotland and Wales.

Statements the creators of the Bad Guidelines campaign object to include not just promotional but misleading language:

Industry plays a valid and important role in the provision of medical education.
Medical representatives can be a useful resource for healthcare professionals.
Information about industry-sponsored trials is publicly available.

The known problem of hidden trials data runs counter to this latter claim, says Bad Guidelines.

PLOS Medicine, which like the BMJ had not signed the document, commented that the document reinforces the need for better firewalls between the industry and the medical profession. "While there are legitimate reasons for collaborations between pharma and healthcare professionals, organizations that work for patients or the medical profession need to think for themselves what's needed, be very wary of any pharmaceutical company led-initiative and insist on developing their own guidelines and transparent rules of engagement," PLOS wrote on its Speaking of Medicine blog.

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