Medical college task force tries to ban gifts from pharma companies

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Medical colleges are joining lawmakers to stop drug makers from gift-giving to doctors. Source: ABC News  

Joining calls by federal and state lawmakers to monitor or restrict physicians’ relationships with pharmaceutical companies, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Task Force has recommended that academic medical centers strongly discourage their faculty from speaking at industry-sponsored conferences.

The proposed ban is the result of a two-year effort by the AAMC to create a model policy governing interactions between the schools and industry. While schools can ignore the association’s advice, most follow its recommendations, New York Times reported.

The new rules would apply only to medical schools, but they will have enormous influence across medicine, David Rothman, MD, president of the Institute on Medicine as a Profession at Columbia University, told the NY Times.

Jeff Kindler, CEO of Pfizer, and Sidney Taurel, CEO of Eli Lilly, both on the task force, objected to the report’s recommendation discouraging academic physicians from participating in industry-sponsored, FDA-regulated speaker programs. “We continue to believe that these types of programs, which are subject to clear regulations regarding their context, can be worthwhile educational activities,” Kindler and Taurel wrote in a letter to the task force.  

The NY Times reported that drug companies spend billions of dollars wooing doctors, more than they spend on research or consumer advertising. Medical schools, packed with prominent professors and impressionable trainees, prove to be particularly attractive marketing targets.

The proposed ban does not apply to academic investigators presenting results from their own industry-sponsored studies.

The report proposes that faculty, staff, students and trainees from academic medical centers to be prohibited from accepting gifts from industry including food, unless it is given in compliance with the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education standards. Also, travel funds should not be accepted from industry unless they are related to legitimate reimbursement or contractual services.

Furthermore, the report advises academic medical centers to prohibit staff from allowing their presentations to be ghostwritten, and would limit sales representatives’ access to academic medical centers, restricting them to nonpatient care and nonpublic areas.

“These commonplace patterns of interaction can create conflicts for the affected physicians,” the report says. “Such forms of industry involvement tend to establish reciprocal relationships that can inject bias, distort decision making and create the perception among colleagues, students, trainees and the public that practitioners are being ‘bought’ or ‘bribed’ by the industry.”