The recent focus on conflict of interest seriously misfires by fixating on monetary payoffs while ignoring all the other things that people care about, things that can bias their judgment and lead to wrongdoing. Wrongdoing should be the focus, not the temptations and motivations that sometimes result in it. This essay explores the evidence in support of strong regulations against conflict of interest, and I conclude that corruption fears have resulted in social-distancing policies of drug reps from physicians and they have given us sharply constrained information markets. There is some evidence that this may be disadvantageous to patients. Information market restrictions do promote powerful political and corporate interests. Whether there are compensating benefits in reduced expenditures on drugs and devices remains to be seen. We can only hope that our institutional policies eventually will be revised in a manner that better respects physicians as sophisticated consumers of product marketing and holds them accountable for their choices not their motivational states.
Stell, L. K. (2017). A Call to Stop Treating Doctors Like Delinquent Adolescents and Medical Product Companies Like Criminal Enterprises. In Philosophy and Medicine (Vol. 122, pp. 65–91). Springer Science and Business Media B.V. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-0979-6_5