On the 26th March 2015, following a previous post by Hole Ousia, the Royal College of Psychiatrists stated that it “is committed to our Conflicts of Interest policy.” This policy advises that:and that:Dr Ben Goldacre in his book “Bad Pharma” suggested that:This is advice I have tried to follow, but have found that it is much harder than I realised. Ben Goldacre also gave this advice:I have written to the Royal College of Psychiatrists for a number of years now as I have concerns that extant College Guidance is not being followed. Recently the President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists reassured me that “our team are on the case”.
Here are the twenty members of the Organising Committee for the forthcoming International Congress in Birmingham. The linked biographies demonstrate that 19 out of 20 have so far not provided any declarations of interest. At the same time there appears to have been no difficulty in offering sponsorship opportunities in advance of the conference.Here is the view of the Editor of the BMJ this time last year. A year on and it appears that there is still a need to hold the applause.Through research for my petition to the Scottish Government for a Sunshine Act I have collected evidence that fully supports Dr McCartney’s claim that, one way or another, “doctors’ education is paid for almost exclusively by industry”Dr Ben Goldacre is of the same view.This is the Royal College of Psychiatrists response to the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) “Central Platform” which intends to set up a central, open-access register of payments. However any healthcare worker or academic can simply opt out of disclosing any payments on this registerIn recent social media correspondence with the President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Dr Ben Goldacre made a series of comments:
“Surely the problem here is the College calling this a problem of the past while failing to implement basic COI transparency? It’s such a dull ancient thing to have to gripe about.”
“I’m surprised that the declarations that have been made aren’t publicly posted?”
“I am very concerned about the reputational consequences for the profession of casual false reassurance on these issues.”
“I really wish the Royal College of Psychiatrists would show some leadership and do Conflict of Interest declaration properly. Not hard, happy to help. It’s unnecessary and embarrassing to be resistant on this issue, we need to be seen to be clean by our patients.”
The President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists replied: “Give us a break Ben. We are chasing and everyone speaking will do so with a full COI. Which will largely be empty”Unless we have transparency it is impossible for any of us to know who might be paid to educate us. We know in one year that the pharmaceutical Industry paid £40 million to healthcare workers in the UK.
Last year at a Royal College of Psychiatrists Conference, one speaker was Professor Allan Young. Professor Young’s declarations can be accessed from the webpage of the Psychopharmacology Committee of which he is currently chair.Below is Professor Young’s “bio” as an organiser for the International Congress. As is the case for 95% of the organising committee, this does not yet include the declarations above:
This is a post that I never wanted to write. I should not have had to. This is a governance issue. It is the Royal College of Psychiatrists who should be ensuring that their policy CR148 is being followed.
We need our College to lead on transparency otherwise we risk a dark “mark” which may be “exceptionally” difficult to rub off.