What follows is material selected from medical education provided by the British Association for Psychopharmacology [BAP] at their Summer Meetings [2010-2019]. The material identified [highlighted in yellow] identifies the involvement of the pharmaceutical Industry with these educational events.
I worked as an NHS psychiatrist for 25 years. Concerned about the involvement of industry I never once attended BAP meetings or used their educational material. However, most of my colleagues did: year in, year out. BAP meetings are generally fully accredited for CME [Continuing Medical Education] . A doctor has to provide evidence on annual basis of having gained sufficient CME points.
Not long before I retired, an NHS psychiatrist colleague said to me: “I’m attending the BAP masterclass course (3 days) later this month and I was really excited about it. I thought they would give me the answers to some tricky medication issues. I’ll be honest, I never thought to really check their links to pharma or what they have declared regarding accepting industry money.” I replied to my colleague that it is actually impossible to establish the exact nature and scale of the involvement of Industry in UK medical education as there is no requirement to formally declare and register payments received from the commercial sector.
I would ask you to look through the following material. There is a lot of it, because there is a lot of industry involvement in medical education. The lack of sunshine legislation in the UK makes it impossible to quantify the sums of money involved or to identify to whom they are paid. Some argue that this is not important but research has shown otherwise. For example, there is longstanding evidence that exposure to industry promotional activity can lead to doctors recommending worse treatments for patients.
I want to make clear that I fully support research and development in all fields of science. However, it is generally agreed that the most basic requirement of science is full transparency. Nothing should be kept behind closed doors. It is important that information is available on which companies have paid a doctor, so that colleagues and patients can decide for themselves what they think.