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Dear Editor,

The Emergency Medicine Australasia journal, senior editors and editorial board deserve accolades for their decision to draw a line in the sand by stopping all drug advertising in the journal.1 The importance of this was highlighted at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) held in Melbourne 2009. At that meeting one speaker explicitly stated that the influence of pharmaceutical companies on clinical decision making was the most important issue in medicine today. Newman highlighted these issues in their recently launched evidence-based website, ‘which lead us to be generally suspicious of industry sponsored data’.2 This results from the use of ghost writing, selective publication of data and ‘fraudulent and openly misleading reporting of data’.2

Not everyone appreciates that the influence of pharmaceutical companies is so pervasive. All of us need to learn critical appraisal skills and we need to be particularly sceptical about any drug company sponsored study. However, many ACEM trainees lack these essential analysis skills, and tend to be more open, even gullible. So, although the Emergency Medicine Australasia journal's decision is laudable, it should not stop there. The ACEM needs to become involved and make this issue a part of the formal training curriculum, that is, both the knowledge and understanding of the issue and the acquisition of critical appraisal skills.

This should include didactic teaching on the subject, including but not limited to the direct pecuniary involvement of drug companies in sponsoring research, researchers, meetings and key opinion leaders. This could, for instance, be easily achieved by using one of the many relevant lectures found online.3 Papers such as ‘The influence of the pharmaceutical industry in medicine’ by Jelinek and Neate should become essential reading for every Fellow and trainee.4

It is only when our College fraternity embraces these principles of good medical practice that we can have the collective influence to better serve our patients.

Competing interests

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  2. Competing interests
  3. References

None declared.

References

  1. Top of page
  2. Competing interests
  3. References
  • 1
    Jelinek GA, Brown AF. A stand against drug company advertising. Emerg. Med. Australas. 2011; 23 (1): 46.
  • 2
    Newman D. Industry Sponsored Trial Data. Available from URL: http://www.thennt.com/our-methodology[Accessed March 2011]. The NNT Group, 2010.
  • 3
    No Free Lunch. The Physician-Pharmaceutical Industry Relationship. Available from URL: http://www.nofreelunch.org/slide.htm[Accessed March 2011].
  • 4
    Jelinek GA, Neate SL. The influence of the pharmaceutical industry in medicine. J. Law Med. 2009; 17: 21623.