Collaborations between physicians or medical researchers and pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotechnology companies can benefit society - most notably by promoting the discovery and development of new medications and medical devices that improve individual and public health. However, relationships between medicine and industry may create conflicts of interest, potentially resulting in undue influence on professional judgments.
In 2007, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) appointed the Committee on Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice to examine conflicts of interest in medicine and to recommend steps to identify, limit, and manage conflicts of interest without negatively affecting constructive collaborations.
The committee's report stresses the importance of preventing bias and mistrust rather than trying to remedy damage after it is discovered. It focuses specifically on financial conflicts of interest involving pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotechnology companies.
The committee recommends the implementation of policies and procedures that will reduce the risk of conflicts that can jeopardize the integrity of scientific investigations, the objectivity of medical education, the quality of patient care, and the public's trust in medicine.