Health professionals "make their choice": pharmaceutical industry leaders' understandings of conflict of interest

Quinn Grundy*, Lisa Tierney, Christopher Mayes, Wendy Lipworth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
71 Downloads (Pure)


Conflicts of interest, stemming from relationships between health professionals and the pharmaceutical industry, remain a highly divisive and inflammatory issue in healthcare. Given that most jurisdictions rely on industry to self-regulate with respect to its interactions with health professionals, it is surprising that little research has explored industry leaders’ understandings of conflicts of interest. Drawing from in-depth interviews with ten pharmaceutical industry leaders based in Australia, we explore the normalized and structural management of conflicts of interest within pharmaceutical companies. We contrast this with participants’ unanimous belief that the antidote to conflicts of interest with health professionals were “informed consumers.” It is, thus, unlikely that a self-regulatory approach will be successful in ensuring ethical interactions with health professionals. However, the pharmaceutical industry’s routine and accepted practices for disclosing and managing employees’ conflicts of interest could, paradoxically, serve as an excellent model for healthcare.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-553
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Bioethical Inquiry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Accepted author version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Conflict of interest
  • Disclosure
  • Neoliberalism
  • Pharmaceutical industry
  • Professionalism


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