What's a conflict of Interest

What's a conflict of Interest

A conflict of interest (COI) is a situation occurring when an individual or organization is involved in multiple interests, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation.

The presence of a conflict of interest is independent of the occurrence of impropriety. Therefore, a conflict of interest can be discovered and voluntarily defused before any corruption occurs. A widely used definition is: "A conflict of interest is a set of circumstances that creates a risk that professional judgement or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest." Primary interest refers to the principal goals of the profession or activity, such as the protection of clients, the health of patients, the integrity of research, and the duties of public office. Secondary interest includes not only financial gain but also such motives as the desire for professional advancement and the wish to do favours for family and friends, but conflict of interest rules usually focus on financial relationships because they are relatively more objective, fungible, and quantifiable. The secondary interests are not treated as wrong in themselves, but become objectionable when they are believed to have greater weight than the primary interests. The conflict in a conflict of interest exists whether or not a particular individual is actually influenced by the secondary interest. It exists if the circumstances are reasonably believed (on the basis of past experience and objective evidence) to create a risk that decisions may be unduly influenced by secondary interests.

These days when a Neuro talks they have to declare their conflicts of interests....because they can be perceived to influence the listeners treatment practises. 

So if Dr X is getting a reward e.g. a consultancy for their time from company Y and the talk is about company Y's drug then it is declared and you can choose to believe the data or not. However as you know there is a "mafia" of neuros others call this opinion leaders, including ProfG who seem to be on every trial. These guys have CoI statements longer than their talks.

However, the CoI's are now shown as an info blip during a talk. They are impossible to read at the lightening pace... as fast as a slide of Dr. ***** ********'s unpublished data :-) that they are shown. Therefore they are essentially useless. But is does not need a brain surgeon to link the speaker to the company supporting the meeting event.

Scientists seldom declare anything...They are usually not on the receiving end of financial reward. However, they could file a patent on their work and this could have financial reward sometime in the future.I questioned a senior Scientist on this they thought it was not a conflict...in their head it wasn't but it is the perception that you deal with.

I filed one patent on using anti-TNF to treat MS with the guy who filed the first patent on anti-TNF for arthritis. Needless to say it was duff in MS but has sold billions in arthritis. Guess who has the massive house in a nice part of town.

However if a scientist gets a few papers in Cell/Nature/Science they may get a job offer with a bigger salary. So do they declare the  paper a conflict of interest. No.... common sense prevails...Shame it doesn't always