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While government strongly encourages us to strengthen collaboration with industry, in order 'to improve UK health and wealth', there is also fear of contact (Berührungsangst - we Germans have a word for it), bordering on moral panic, which seems to justify Panorama's under cover work (see below). I know that doctors are sufficiently perceptive to understand that drug companies are accountable to their share holders, while doctors owe the same to their patients and their conscience. The question is, how do companies know which treatments are needed and acceptable, and how do doctors learn about new drug developments, if there is no contact between the two? Furthermore, would we trust NHS functionaries to make such decisions for us? In the end, trust grows between individual doctors and their patients (or not as the case may be). Klaus Ebmeier (Editor)

TV: Panorama: Who’s paying your doctor?, BBC1

14/04/2014, 20:30

Panorama sets out to investigate the tactics drug companies are using to influence what doctors prescribe. Part of the programme looks at drug company sponsorship of sessions at medical conferences, using the example of a psychiatry conference in Munich. Oxford professor and consultant psychiatrist Guy Goodwin was paid to speak at a symposium organised by French drug firm Servier on depression. Tim Kendall of the Sheffield Health & Social Care NHS Foundation Trust, who was involved in making the programme, claims that, although Professor Goodwin didn’t mention or talk about Servier’s new antidepressant drug, by speaking at the industry-organised session as an eminent expert in the field he gives the drug credibility. Professor Goodwin points out in a statement that the industry sponsorship was clear, no guidelines were broken, there was no problem with the content of his talk and he states how much he receives from these talks


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