The medical profession needs to distance itself from the pharmaceutical industry to restore public confidence in the NHS, doctors have warned.

A Royal College of Physicians report says more independence is needed to address "widespread suspicions" that the drugs industry promotes its products via its links with the NHS.

Sponsorship

The industry sponsors around half of all postgraduate medical education. The RCP recommends gradually reducing this dependency while alternative funding sources are found, for example from the royal colleges and the Department of Health.

It calls on the medical profession to adopt the Nolan principles set out by the committee on standards in public life, in order to reassure patients.

Research

The report, Innovating for Health: patients, physicians, the pharmaceutical industry and the NHS, also says the UK's recent comparative advantage in medical research has now been lost to European competitors.

It says better research leadership is needed within the NHS, alongside a better alignment of incentives to promote research.

More on the RCP report Innovating for Health