The British Medical Journal has a piece out — Who’s Watching The Watchdogs?* — about conflicts of interest between medical journalists and big pharma.
Yes, medical journalism is not travel journalism. The article begins:
Doctors should be wary of the increasing entanglement of medical journalists and the drug industry, warn Lisa Schwartz, Steven Woloshin, and Ray Moynihan.
Journalists tend to spot interesting conflicts quicker than conflicting interests. Still the trio have three suggestions for us:
Three ways to disentangle financial ties between medical journalists and healthcare industries
Education of journalists
Training and further education of medical journalists should not be funded by the healthcare industries that the journalists cover, whether the education is delivered by universities or professional associations.
To avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest medical journalists should not accept from the healthcare industries they cover any awards, scholarships, gifts, travel, special treatment, or anything that could be seen as affecting what or how news is reported.
The practice of journalism
Just as medical journals require disclosure of conflicts of interest, medical journalists should disclose any financial or non-financial assistance from the industry in researching or writing their stories, including identifying quoted patients and experts with ties to the industry. Conflicts of interests of sources should routinely be disclosed.
Anyone rushing to take them up?
*That’s Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? for all you Latin-educated, medical types.