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A matter of ‘opinion’

Certainly, in my advocacy for better stroke prevention, I am personally conscious of potential conflicts including, but not exclusive to, speaking at industry-sponsored educational events and of course, like many colleagues, I also lecture, teach, speak at charitable foundations, study days and public meetings. Conflicts are a daily reality of professional life in many spheres and we are obliged to manage such conflicts and act in accordance with professional standards.

Any person speaking at a sponsored or hosted (in whatever guise) event could be potentially ‘taking a certain line’ and any person holding a national position could similarly be exposed to conflicts that influence our thinking. To assume that a colleague’s beliefs and opinions might be ‘paid’ however, because you disagree with them, is deeply disrespectful without some independent analysis of that opinion.

The current IPHA guidelines and legislation are an important step in promoting a responsible relationship between industry and doctors. I personally always declare potential conflicts and when speaking at sponsored events, give an honest professional opinion that is my own. I am sure many colleagues, including Prof Barry, would not consider themselves  ‘a paid opinion’ if they ever gave of their expertise and lectured at sponsored educational events. That we might need more medical debate and education at events funded by other sources, or critical review of content of talks and guidelines on reasonable honoraria are all valid points of course, but that does not excuse presumption.

I fear broadcasting a prejudicial position, however, might lead many in the profession now to question the wisdom of agreeing to publication of individual honoraria received, which they are currently not obliged to do so. This would be a retrograde step in trying to foster a healthier relationship in this key area.

Respectfully yours,

Dr Ronan Collins (MD, MRCP (UK), FRCPI, IMC 16223), *

Consultant Physician in Geriatric and Stroke Medicine,

Tallaght Hospital, Dublin.  

* I have spoken at meetings and reviewed data on advisory boards sponsored by the four manufacturers of licensed direct oral anticoagulants.

I am a member of the Council on stroke of the Irish Heart Foundation.

The views presented are always my own.

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