The Royal Society of Medicine: fine dining but no sunshine

I have written to a number of UK bodies who have a leadership role in healthcare to ask whether they support Sunshine legislation or not? I have now received this response from the Royal Society Of Medicine:

The Royal Society of Medicine generates significant income from providing or hosting Continuing Medical Education. This is what is offered:

“The Royal Society of Medicine offers the opportunity to advertise to a large, yet highly targeted audience of members and non-members, all of whom are actively engaged in the medical field and medical education.

RSM events, as well as webinars and other online resources, provide specialist medical education across all the recognised specialties and deliver continuing professional development to doctors, dentists, nurses, veterinary surgeons and other healthcare professionals

The support received by generous sponsors allow the RSM to invite expert speakers, reach a wider audience and offer reduced rates to trainees, students and other members.

Nearly 30,000 delegates attended RSM events in the last academic year and the support of industry continues to be vital.”

This is how “1 Wimpole Street” is introduced to the market:

Following previous correspondence with the Royal Society of Medicine regarding their approach to transparency of competing financial interests, I summarised my thoughts as follows:

A few of my thoughts on the responses from RSM on transparency:

The RSM confirms that the conference that I asked about was organised by Pavilion Publishing who had hired the  Royal Society of Medicine venue at 1 Wimpole Street, London.

It concerns me that the Royal Society of Medicine, which describes itself as "one of the country's major providers of postgraduate medical education" and that it is "independent", has no policy on competing interests. However it "expects" speakers to declare "any competing interests" which are then "included on meeting materials for delegates". This approach is similar to that taken by other Royal Societies and Colleges, and is far from transparent. The information given to delegates is rarely open to the public, is not systematically recorded, may not be archived and does not include the size or scale of any competing financial interests.

The lack of public transparency by the Royal Society of Medicine means that there is no way for a patient to establish the role and scale of marketing in the advice provided by any healthcare professional associated with "one of the country's major providers of postgraduate medical education" in an event like this. Evidence has repeatedly demonstrated that exposure to industry promotional activity can lead to doctors recommending worse treatments for patients. In the UK the pharmaceutical industry pays at least £40 million each year to doctors for promotional and marketing their products.



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