From The Washington Post
Declaring that the pervasive influence of drug industry money is distorting doctors' treatment decisions and scientific findings, a prestigious panel of medical experts called on their colleagues yesterday to adopt far-reaching new conflict-of-interest policies.From JAMA
In an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the group said that voluntary efforts to limit corporate inducements have failed, resulting in the overprescribing of some medications and the withholding of negative discoveries about others.
Conflicts of interest between physicians' commitment to patient care and the desire of pharmaceutical companies and their representatives to sell their products pose challenges to the principles of medical professionalism. These conflicts occur when physicians have motives or are in situations for which reasonable observers could conclude that the moral requirements of the physician's roles are or will be compromised. Although physician groups, the manufacturers, and the federal government have instituted self-regulation of marketing, research in the psychology and social science of gift receipt and giving indicates that current controls will not satisfactorily protect the interests of patients. More stringent regulation is necessary, including the elimination or modification of common practices related to small gifts, pharmaceutical samples, continuing medical education, funds for physician travel, speakers bureaus, ghostwriting, and consulting and research contracts. We propose a policy under which academic medical centers would take the lead in eliminating the conflicts of interest that still characterize the relationship between physicians and the health care industry.
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The news in the past couple of weeks may signal a fork in the road for health care professionals. In one direction, last week's JAMA's article that called for elimination of most free swag from the prescription drug industry. The other, a story about growing dissatisfaction with conventional medicine with many people turning to alternative therapies, regardless of whether they are safe and effective.
Read more: http://www.consumersunion.org/scribbler/health_care/003122.html
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