Minnesota med school ponders banning all gifts to docs

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The University of Minnesota Medical School in Duluth, is considering a new conflict-of-interest policy so strict, that doctors would not even allow Post-it Notes bearing a pharmaceutical company’s logo.

The extensive policy—which if enacted, would be among the toughest in the U.S.—comes as congressional investigators and the Justice Department are probing ties between doctors and drug companies and medical device manufacturers.

The school’s proposed policy reaches far into the entrenched relationship between the drug and medical device industries and the university's doctors, researchers and students, as well as the institution itself, the Standard Times reported. If adopted, the policy would alter the relationship between industry and the medical school.

The policy would ban all personal gifts from industry and free drug samples would be limited. Industry support for doctors’ continuing medical education would be phased out. Doctors’ consulting relationships would be disclosed to both patients and the public. The financial ties would be monitored far more closely, according to Standard Times.
“It's really putting policies in place that would, as best as possible, ensure the patient's best interest,” said Leo Furcht, MD, co-chairman of the task force recommending the rules and chairman of the university’s department of laboratory medicine and pathology.

A proposed draft policy was presented to the university’s Dean Deborah Powell last month and subsequently distributed to the school's faculty for comment. The comment period is expected to conclude by the end of the semester. However, Furcht noted that the reaction so far has been mixed.

“Many people have said, 'This is something we have to do,’ there are some who feel [the policy] has gone a little too far, and some who feel it isn't enough,” Furcht said.