In September 2010, the Council of the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland passed a motion that ‘The College would cease receiving any sponsorship from Pharmaceutical companies of its academic meetings or other activities’. This decision was taken following representation from a number of members. In April 2011, the College conference had no funding from Pharmaceutical companies. Over 70% of those attending this Conference supported this decision.
The College recognises the great benefits which have been achieved through advances in pharmacotherapy. Many advances have only occurred because of the pharmaceutical industry and its commitment to research and development. However the College is also aware of the risks of conflict of interests, and the importance for Psychiatry to be able to form an independent appraisal of the value of specific drugs. Research in this area has overwhelmingly showed that clinicians are influenced by the pharmaceutical industry’s marketing strategies which have an impact on prescribing practises. While Psychiatrists aim to improve the lives of patients and their families the pharmaceutical industry’s aim are primarily commercial in nature. These aims do not always coincide.
In the interest of service users, psychiatrists, the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland as well as the wider interests of the public it is considered opportune to provide a position statement at this time. There are a number of recommendations provided but at the outset it should be stated that Psychiatrists remain responsible and autonomous for their own professional practise in this area.