Some special interest groups are very critical of financial conflicts of interests between businesses (namely, pharmaceutical industry) and doctors and scientists. I’ve seen and worked on both sides. I think it’s very important to educate doctors and scientists on all aspects of medicine – the scientific, business, and sociopolitical aspects.
Don’t like the purported influence that drug companies have on doctors’ prescribing habits? Then teach doctors how drug companies market their products. Give doctors the tools and knowledge to ask meaningful questions to drug companies so that drug companies can do a better job at marketing in a fair balanced manner.
Think scientists who abstain from all commercial collaborations are the “pure, good scientists?” Apparently, Dr. Thomas Stossel thinks this is a dangerous mindset to adopt for all involved – including patients – and voices his concerns via a podcast program.
To keep scientists and doctors “pure” from industry influences by banning industry collaborations and by assigning those who do collaborate with industry as “biased” is, in my opinion, shortsighted. It’s akin to running away from something you don’t like just so you don’t have to deal with it, instead of facing the problem head on and challenging for a change.
When we have more business savvy scientists and doctors who know how good business is run, they are more able to question poor business practices with their partners – including drug companies and healthcare organizations – and they are more able to be influences of positive change that can ultimately benefit society at large.