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Annu Rev Med. 2012;63:465-77. doi: 10.1146/annurev-med-061410-121850. Epub 2011 Sep 1.

Relationships between medicine and industry: approaches to the problem of conflicts of interest.

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NewYork Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York, New York 10021, USA.


Relationships between physicians and industry are prevalent in medical education, clinical practice, and research, as well as at the level of medical institutions. These relationships can be valuable for the advancement of medicine but have also received increased scrutiny in recent years because they create conflicts of interest that pose a risk of biasing the judgments of physicians. Responses to these conflicts of interest by medical institutions, journals, and governments have utilized four main tools: education, disclosure, management, and prohibition. Each of the four has its advantages and drawbacks. Medicine faces the challenge of tailoring the use of these tools to minimize the risk of bias while allowing useful medical-industry collaborations to proceed. Viewing the dilemmas created by physicians' relationships with industry as a version of the principal-agent problem, which is much discussed by economists, may help in developing creative approaches to these issues.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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