Pharmaceutical industry relationships with oncologists in sub-Saharan Africa

Document Type



General Surgery (East Africa)


Health-care systems in sub-Saharan Africa are considered to be new markets for pharmaceutical companies. This perception is particularly relevant within oncology, as the pharmaceutical industry has changed strategic priorities in the past 10 years to focus on cancer. Since the 1930s, pharmaceutical companies have used advertisements, sample drugs, gifts, paid speaking engagements, advisory boards, and trips to conferences to influence clinical practice and policy. A large amount of literature describes the commonness of these practices and their effects on the behaviour of doctors. However, these data come almost exclusively from high-income countries. Industry–doctor relationships are increasingly common in sub-Saharan Africa and other low-income and middle-income countries. Although there are undoubtedly risks of industry engagement in low-income and middle-income countries, many programmes with educational, research, and clinical value would not occur in these countries without industry support. Thus, what is known about these relationships in high-income countries will not necessarily apply in low-income and middle-income countries. There is a need for widespread discussion about industry–oncologist interactions across the African continent and context-specific data to understand the potential risks and benefits of these relationships.

Publication (Name of Journal)

The Lancet Oncology