by William Van Ornum, Ph.D. on
Lately in the media there has been great attention toward physicians who do research and also have a financial interest in a drug company or receive benefits from a drug company.
At least one profession cautions against such “dual roles.” The primary and over-riding loyalty of mental health clinicians is to their clients. although there are becoming more and more exceptions to this.
In many situations “wearing different hats” can be very positive–one who does so gets things done.
But college teachers should not sell life insurance to students in their class. Therapists should not see family members–loyalty to family trumps therapeutic role. Owners of newspapers should not refuse to print facts contrary to their own political views. The list goes on and on.
When a researcher takes money from a certain drug company, this may compromise objectivity.
Or if a drug is prescribed for someone solely or partly because of a physician’s economic interest in the drug, there is more than the patient which is being considered. Hopefully situations would not occur that contradict the Hippocratic Oath, “First, do no harm”, but this is not a guarantee.