Open Medicine EU

My summer holidays are over and now I’m back to my normal retirement…

My friends at Health Action International have asked me to moderate a session at their conference on conflicts of interest in medicine on 24th September in Cork (“Liege” in French?) so, apart from meeting interesting people and hearing interesting things, I have an excuse (not that I need one) to go to my own country.

(In passing – European Commissioners are supposed to be independent and are not supposed to say “my” country but to say “the country I know best”. Mind you, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a commissioner say that.)

Details of the conference can be found here:

Conflict of interest in the making of science is a huge and very complex issue, and especially so in the science of medicines, because of the vast amounts of money in the field. The worst kind of conflicts are hidden or undisclosed conflicts. Undisclosed conflicts may be perfectly innocent but too often they can facilitate bias and sometimes even outright corruption.

There was an interesting case in France recently where the Conseil d’Etat (a kind of administrative Supreme Court) required the national health authority (Haute Autorité de Santé – HAS) to withdraw its guidelines on the treatment of diabetes 2 because of undeclared conflicts of interest among the authors. Faced with a similar complaint, the authority also withdrew its guidelines on the treatment of Alzheimers, and will review other previous guidelines.

The Conseil d’Etat did not rule on the substance or content of the guidelines on diabetes 2, but on the process by which they were developed – the non-disclosures were in breach of the authority’s own rules on conflict of interest. However, the content of these (and many other) HAS guidelines has been strongly criticised by Prescrire the independent drug bulletin.

So, lots of things to talk about in Cork…

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