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An ethical relationship with pharma

  • Sarmishtha Bhattacharyya (a1) and Susan Mary Benbow (a2)

This brief article reflects on the relationship between psychiatrists and pharmaceutical companies (pharma), which continues to generate debate and concerns. We suggest that psychiatrists should consider both the biomedical ethical principles and how values guide actions and clinical decision-making in their dealings with pharma. In addition, the Royal College of Psychiatrists should err towards eschewing influences that might be regarded by others as distorting its position, and individual psychiatrists should declare interests that others might regard as competing/conflicting in order to maintain the trust of patients and the public.


S.M.B. practises as an independent systemic psychotherapist. Both authors have undertaken various roles within the Royal College of Psychiatrists and S.B. is involved in recruiting patients for clinical trials.

Corresponding author
Correspondence Dr Sarmishtha Bhattacharyya, Heddfan Unit, Wrexham LL13 7TD, UK. Email:
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Beauchamp, TL, Childress, JF (2001) Principles of Biomedical Ethics. Oxford University Press.
Bhattacharyya, S, Burns, A (2007) Is the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on prescribing, research and publication in the field of psychogeriatrics excessive? – No. International Psychogeriatrics, 19: 1010–4.
Fulford, KWM (2017) Values-based practice: a new partner to evidence-based practice and a first for psychiatry? Mens Sana Monographs, 6: 1021.
Morgan, MA, Dana, J, Loewenstein, G, et al. (2006) Interactions of doctors with the pharmaceutical industry. Journal of Medical Ethics, 32: 559–63.
Royal College of Psychiatrists (2014) Good Psychiatric Practice: Code of Ethics (College Report CR186). RCPsych.
Royal College of Psychiatrists (2017) Good Psychiatric Practice: Relationships with Pharmaceutical and Other Related Organisations (College Report CR202). RCPsych.
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BJPsych Advances
  • ISSN: 2056-4678
  • EISSN: 2056-4686
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-advances
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An ethical relationship with pharma

  • Sarmishtha Bhattacharyya (a1) and Susan Mary Benbow (a2)
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