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Evening Talk: Peter Gøtzsche on fighting conflicts of interest in medicine

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Rewley House

1 Wellington Square

Oxford

OX1 2JA

United Kingdom

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In this talk, Professor Peter Gøtzsche will discuss his personal experiences with, and research on, how conflicts of interest affect the results from medical studies. His experiences in this area started when he worked in the drug industry, and they continued after he left the industry to become one of its most vociferous critics. He has published numerous papers and books showing that drugs are much more harmful and much less effective than doctors are aware, which explains why they are the third leading cause of death, after heart disease and cancer.

This evening lecture is given in conjunction with the History and Philosophy of Evidence-Based Healthcare accredited short course, part of the Evidence-Based Healthcare programme at the University of Oxford’s Department for Continuing Education. Find out more.

About Peter Gøtzsche

After completing the gymnasium, Gøtzsche studied science and graduated as Master of Science in biology and chemistry in 1974. He worked briefly as a teacher. Between 1975 and 1977, he worked as a drug rep and as a product manager (Astra) and from 1977 to 1983 as chief of a medical department (Astra-Syntex). In parallel, he studied medicine and graduated as a physician in 1984. He worked at hospitals in Copenhagen 1984-97. In 1993, he co-founded the Cochrane Collaboration with Sir Iain Chalmers and about 80 others. The same year he established the Nordic Cochrane Centre. In 2010, Gøtzsche became Professor of Clinical Research Design and Analysis at the University of Copenhagen. In 2017, he was elected a member of the Governing Board of Cochrane. In 2018, he was expelled from Cochrane’s Board by a 6 to 5 vote of the 13-member board during the annual meeting in Edinburgh. The Board claimed they expelled Gøtzsche because of an "ongoing, consistent pattern of disruptive and inappropriate behaviours ..., taking place over a number of years, which undermined this culture and were detrimental to the charity’s work, reputation and members." Gøtzsche claims that the real reason for his expulsion was his vocal critique of big pharma and its influence on medicine and of Cochrane’s CEO. He has described the Cochrane affair in the book, “Death of a Whistleblower and Cochrane’s Moral Collapse.” He stated that "Cochrane no longer lives up to its core values of collaboration, openness, transparency, accountability, democracy and keeping the drug industry at arm’s length." After the expulsion, four members of the board resigned in protest, throwing the organization into turmoil. Gøtzsche is the author of over 70 papers in the big five (BMJ, Lancet, Annals, JAMA and NEJM) and several books, including Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare, which was Winner of the British Medical Association’s Annual Book Award in the category Basis of Medicine in 2014. In 2019, he established the Institute for Scientific Freedom in Copenhagen, www.scientificfreedom.dk.

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Rewley House

1 Wellington Square

Oxford

OX1 2JA

United Kingdom

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