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Am J Ophthalmol. 2008 Aug;146(2):159-71. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2008.04.007. Epub 2008 Jun 6.

Debunking myths in physician-industry conflicts of interest.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Michigan, W. K. Kellogg Eye Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105, USA.



To call attention to the myths that surround physician-industry conflicts of interest, to refute their validity, and to propose ways to address them so as to insure that physicians make medical practice decisions in the best interest of their patients.




Review, analysis, and discussion of the implications of selected pertinent literature.


Physicians often have voluntary financial relationships with industry based on behaviors and motivations that include entitlement, recognition, belonging, and money. The pharmaceutical and device industry spends billions of dollars annually in marketing to physicians. The sophisticated marketing plan seeks access to physicians through gifting mechanisms to ingratiate them and to influence them to prescribe industry's drugs and to purchase its products. Despite widely accepted studies that demonstrate that industry's marketing activities influence physicians' medical practice behavior to the detriment of patients and the public, physicians persist in voicing myths to justify their partaking of industry's largesse. Many physicians believe that their voluntary financial conflicts of interest with industry can be managed by simply disclosing them and by "being honest." Yet there is no support from well-conducted studies to support the effectiveness of this approach.


Medical organizations and academic institutions are the ones to take the lead in recognizing that these voluntary financial conflicts of interest are unacceptable and should be stopped. Such conflicts mainly relate to the acceptance of gifts and money that are designed to influence behavior and are a form of financial coercion.

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