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Hum Reprod. 2017 Aug 1;32(8):1543-1548. doi: 10.1093/humrep/dex228.

Gynaecologists and industry: ain't no sunshine.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand.
Fertility Plus, Auckland District Health Board, Greenlane Clinical Centre, Epsom, Auckland 1051, New Zealand.
Department of Clinical Science and Community Health, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan 20122, Italy.
Infertility Unit, Fondazione Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico Ca' Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Milan 20122, Italy.


The field of reproductive medicine is known for its innovations, and where there is innovation there is marketing and engagement with the doctors who are potential prescribers and users of those innovations. Financial connections between drug and device manufacturers with doctors have been extensively debated over the past decade. On one hand, relationships between doctors and industry could be considered synergistic by allowing the development of improved treatments. On the other hand, payment (and other benefits) from industry to doctors may subtly shift the main objective of the collaboration from patients' health to mutual benefits for both doctors and industry. Fertility patients can be considered 'vulnerable' as they face the multiple challenges of seeking to be parents, understanding complex and expensive fertility treatments that are by no means universally successful, and at the same time are under pressure because of their ever-increasing age. They are entitled to receive the most cost-effective treatments. We suggest that specialists in the field of reproductive medicine should be transparent about the receipt of financial benefits, including funding from industry, as it may be influencing both research outcomes and treatments that patients are offered. We also recommend that payments arising from industry-sponsored research should be centralized in institutional funds and not paid directly to researchers. And there should be transparency about the source and the purpose of the payment. Industry sponsorship of medical societies and their educational events should be kept to a minimum and declared quantitatively in societies' websites and scientific programme brochures. Industry sponsorship of scientific meetings should not include the right to host educational symposia or speakers within the programme. All speakers should declare their conflicts of interest (COIs) at their meetings. Guideline groups should require all members to declare their financial COIs before meeting and exclude or limit those members with COI. Governmental authorities should not allow continuing medical education credits to those educational events not complying with the above policies. The crucial role of medical journals as 'gatekeepers' for identifying 'science' must be reaffirmed.


assisted reproduction; conflict of interest; ethics; funding; gynaecology; industry; infertility; professional society; relationships; sponsorship

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