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October 19, 2005

Physicians Advising Investment Firms

JAMA. 2005;294(15):1897-1898. doi:10.1001/jama.294.15.1897-b

To the Editor: In attempting to articulate their condemnation of physicians advising investment firms, Drs Topol and Blumenthal1 invoked an ethical rebuke all readers would recognize—conflict of interest. Consulting to the investment industry by physicians may be worrisome and deplorable, but it is not a conflict of interest.

A conflict of interest occurs when a financial or other secondary interest biases or has the potential to bias a physician’s primary professional aims.2 When there is the lure of money but it cannot distort a physician’s judgment related to the duties of patient care, research, or the teaching of medicine, there may be worries about appearances, but there cannot be a conflict of interest.3

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