Pharmaceutical giants had “no legitimate role” in evaluating their products beyond initial development stages and their involvement was “distorting” the debate, BMJ chief Fiona Godlee has told a new Australian podcast looking at evidence-based medicine issues.
Hosted by renowned health researcher and journalist Ray Moynihan and produced by the Australian chapter of Cochrane — an independent not-for-profit organisation producing the latest, highest-quality evidence in clinical medicine — The Recommended Dose launches Thursday with the Godlee interview.
— Cochrane Australia (@CochraneAus) October 18, 2017
Godlee, who has been at the helm of The BMJ for 12 years, highlighted the undue influence of drug companies on the rollout and evaluation of their products, saying “industry doesn’t have a legitimate role” in this process.
“We shouldn’t have people with such a huge vested interest involved in the outcome so closely as they are,” Godlee told Moynihan. “I think we have to accept the fact that the current system is delivering distorted information.”
In an ideal world, Godlee said there wouldn’t be “this irreducible conflict of interest in research that’s affecting people’s health”, advocating instead for a centralised fund where a portion of pharmaceutical profits could go to establish independent and transparent evaluation of their products.
Godlee credited Cochrane with helping change the culture in medicine towards greater transparency and quality of research.
These were issues she said had become increasingly important to the BMJ, with an internal push for greater transparency about the journal’s advertising revenue, to engage more with the public (perhaps even with a specific public-facing edition), and to feature more independent commentators.
Moynihan said The Recommended Dose would “tackle the big questions in health and offer new insights, evidence and ideas from some of the world’s most fascinating and prolific researchers, writers and thinkers”.
“We’re hoping this new look behind the scenes will open the world of evidence up to everyone and encourage a more questioning approach to health – whether you’re a journalist, health professional or more especially if you’re not a health insider at all,” he said.
Notable figures to feature on coming episodes include psychiatrist Allen Frances, who will talk about madness and US president Donald Trump, and Lisa Bero and Paul Glasziou, both internationally-renowned in the evidence-based medicine movement.