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BMA withdraws from Pharma standards group

Doctors leaders have reiterated their commitment to open and constructive dialogue between the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare community but have withdrawn from a cross-professional group.

The BMA is no longer a member of the ESHLSG (Ethical Standards in Health and Life Sciences Group) — a multi-stakeholder group with representation from healthcare professions, the life sciences industry, including the pharmaceutical industry, and patient organisations.

The group aims to improve relations and promote greater transparency between the different sectors.

In a letter informing the group of its decision, the BMA says: 'While doctors leaders support the overarching aim of better dialogue and openness between such groups, they have become concerned that the ESHLSG was moving to establish policy positions on issues the BMA had not considered in detail.'

Although the association will no longer be a member of ESHLSG, it will continue to respond to ESHLSG consultations, such as the current one on payments to healthcare professionals by commercial organisations.

Lancet concerns

Medical journal The Lancet withdrew from the group last month, citing concerns about the ESHLSG document Guidance on Collaboration Between Healthcare Professionals and the Pharmaceutical Industry, signed by 18 organisations last year.

Lobby group Bad Guidelines, led by medical students and doctors, says the guidelines contain misleading statements about important issues and has been calling for them to be withdrawn.

The Medical Schools Council, one of the signatories of the guidance, announced last month it intended to work with the ESHLSG to improve the document

Its statement says the scrutiny of the guidance has ‘identified deficiencies in the current statement’.

The ESHLSG is now consulting on the guidelines and BMA will give its views as a non-member.