Conflicts of Interest in Clinical Practice and Research

Oxford University Press (1996)
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Abstract

Our society has long sanctioned, at least tacitly, a degree of conflict of interest in medical practice and clinical research as an unavoidable consequence of the different interests of the physician or clinical investigator, the patient or clinical research subject, third party payers or research sponsors, the government, and society as a whole, to name a few. In the past, resolution of these conflicts has been left to the conscience of the individual physician or clinical investigator and to professional organizations. The public is no longer willing to allow health care providers to wholly govern their own conflicts of interest for several reasons. These include: new forms of health care financing and delivery that provide innovative and lucrative opportunities for physician or insurer enrichment at patient expense; the increased importance of commercial research support as peer-reviewed governmental research support has decreased; evidence that physicians and clinical investigators too frequently resolve conflicts of interest in their own favor; and a general societal mistrust of authority. This volume represents a multidisciplinary effort, drawing from philosophy, medicine, law, economics and public policy to identify and categorize conflicts of interest in medical practice and clinical research, and, where possible, to offer a mechanism for resolving them. Part I addresses conflicts of interest from a theoretical perspective, offering basic concepts and analytical frameworks. The second part discusses two topics prominent in current health care policy debates--self-referral and financial incentives to limit care. Part III examines conflicts of interest generated by pharmaceutical industry involvement in clinical practice and research. The final section deals with conflicts of interest in clinical research in several contexts, including institutional reviews boards, clinical trials, Cooperative Research and Development Agreements between government and private researchers, brokerage of research subjects by Contract Research Organizations, and cost-effectiveness studies.

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Allen Buchanan
University of Arizona

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