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Inside health : Conflicted medicine 1/3

  • Audio

About this work


This broadcast highlights popular concerns about the credibility of research and questions the financial interests of pharmaceutical companies. It covers a wide spectrum of opinion on the nature of conflicted interests in the medical industry. On the one hand, this is described as blown out of proportion and there is confidence that there are enough checks and balances in place to regulate the industry. On the other hand, there is the view that this is an extremely contentious matter because of the underlining pressure, influence and financial interest exerted by the pharmaceutical industry. A senior researcher, Ray Moynihan, is particularly concerned by the lack of honest feedback that comes from this institutionalised and commercialised process of research whereby researchers run the risk of being jaded by the interests of these large corporate pharmaceutical companies that they are funded by. Professor Tom Stossel, argues that despite the nature of conflicted interests, further regulation in the industry slows down innovation. Dr Margaret McCartney discusses the level of bias contained in the research; the extent to which research is shaped by hidden pressures and company agendas. In contrast, Professor Sir Rory Collins believes that these concerns are misapportioned, much of the control he claims is in the hands of researchers and that these conditions are clarified in their contractual agreements. Dr Clare Gerada identifies that the public’s mistrust is not in the findings of the research but in the translation of these findings, for example the way drugs research is promoted via lectures or publications published in the public domain. Professor David Haslam takes a middle ground in acknowledging that the interaction between researcher and company boards is unavoidable but what is more important is these relationships are declared prior to any discussions or meetings and researchers should retain the right to exclude anyone who is too financially involved in these discourses. Dr Kate Mandeville believes that scientists should remove themselves from the project once it has been published in the public domain. Professor Gerard Hastings and Dr Fiona Godlee discuss the scandal over swine flu medication in 2010 and its implications on conflicted interests in medicine. Finally, Professor David Nutt gives his views from the researcher’s perspective as someone who has been researching addiction for many years and then contracted by a pharmaceutical company to carry out research and deliver its findings to doctors, students and members of the public.


London : BBC Radio 4, 2014

Physical description

1 audio disc (28 min.) ; 12 cm


Broadcast on 12 August, 2014

Creator/production credits

Presenter: Dr Mark Porter. Producer: Erika Wright

Copyright note

BBC Radio 4



  • English

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