Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Questionable content of an industry-supported medical school lecture series: a case study
  1. Navindra Persaud1,2,3
  1. 1Department of Family and Community Medicine, St Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Canada
  2. 2Keenan Research Centre in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Canada
  3. 3Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Navindra Persaud, St Michael's Hospital, 80 Bond Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5B 1X2; nav.persaud{at}


Background Medical schools are grappling with how best to manage industry involvement in medical education.

Objective To describe a case study of industry-supported undergraduate medical education related to opioid analgesics.

Method Institutional case study.

Results As part of their regular curriculum, Canadian medical students attended pain pharmacotherapy lectures that contained questionable content about the use of opioids for pain management. The lectures were supported by pharmaceutical companies that market opioid analgesics in Canada and the guest lecturer was a member of speakers bureaus of the same companies. These conflicts of interests were not fully disclosed. A reference book that reinforced some of the information in the lectures and that was paid for by a sponsoring company was made available to students. This is the first report of an association between industry sponsorship and the dissemination of potentially dangerous information to medical students.

Conclusions This case demonstrates the need for better strategies for preventing, identifying and dealing with problematic interactions between the pharmaceutical industry and undergraduate medical education. These might include the avoidance of unnecessary conflicts of interest, more disclosure of conflicts, an open process for dealing with recognised problems and internationally harmonised conflict of interest policies.

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 3.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Other content recommended for you