In an article: Doctors and Drug Companies: Still Cozy after All These Years, David Henry of the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and the School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, New South Wales, Australia, said:
The relationships between doctors and drug companies are controversial and have long been scrutinized by researchers, ethicists, professional bodies, and legislators.
In response to widely voiced concerns, drug companies are trying to reduce some of their more egregious activities, such as provision of lavish gifts and entertainment, and overly generous travel support, open-ended activities such as “unrestricted” research grants, “educational” grants, membership in speakers’ bureaus and advisory panels, consultancies, and stock-holding.
There is evidence that these types of ties are common among specialist physicians. Such activities have long been the focus of those who have questioned the relationships between doctors and drug companies.
Underlying all of these concerns is a belief that close ties between doctors and pharmaceutical companies have been shown to create the following negative effects:
1) they lead to inappropriate prescribing that can harm patients;
2) they create divided loyalties for doctors between the health system, their patients, and manufacturing companies, which is a conflict of commitment as well as a conflict of interest;
3) they lead to use of unnecessary and expensive medications with consequent costs falling on health care systems and patients;
4) they may lead to medicalisation of human variation, i.e., “disease-mongering”; and
5) they diminish the professional standing of doctors in the eyes of the public and governments, which leads to a reduced ability to advocate for the health of patients, for the public, and on behalf of the profession.